The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Trust in God and Be Blessed

Sr Thérèse Fitzgerald, nds | Dublin, Ireland

After Jesus calls the apostles (6:13), we don’t have a commissioning in Luke; we simply hear that Jesus accompanies them (6:17) and the people gather to hear Jesus and be healed, ‘for power came out from him and healed all of them’ (6:17-19).

Then, Jesus addresses his disciples (6.20). This raises two points: (1) We as the reader may now decide whether we too are disciples and, if so, how do we hear these words and how do they affect us? Indeed, when we read the consequences of being a disciple, i.e. that people will hate, exclude, revile and defame us (6:22), how do we respond? What, even, does it mean that such experiences are to be rejoiced in for the reward will be great in heaven (6:23)? (2) The ‘poor’ and ‘hungry’ whom Luke refers too are, unlike in Matthew, economically poor. Yet, we know, that many disciples had money, e.g. they owned boats and had professions. So who is being addressed? Who are the ‘poor’ and who are the ‘rich’ to whom Jesus is referring? We are left puzzled.

The first beatitude speaks of the Kingdom of God as being already present for the poor. The reversal from being hungry to being full and from weeping to laughing is for a future time. Also, with the woes; the consolation of the rich has already happened while the full and laughing will, in a future time, be hungry and weep. Why these different time frames? The text doesn’t provide an answer. However, the present reality of the Kingdom of God for the ‘poor’ does offer hope that something is already happening to change their circumstances. The ‘rich’ having already had their reward, seems to serve as a warning … they must change or they will experience hunger and weeping. Here we have echoes of the revolutionary tone we find in Mary’s Magnificat (Lk 1:46-56).

Some insight may be found in our first reading from Jeremiah and in our Psalm. In Jeremiah, everyone is required to put their trust in God, not in other people. People who trust in God are blessed and like a tree that bears fruit ‘unceasingly’. Again, in our Psalm, the imagery of a tree is used to develop the picture of the ideal righteous person. They ‘don’t take the path that sinners tread’ (1:1) … ‘for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous’ (1:6). In other words, if everyone trusts in God then they listen to God’s Word and obey it. God’s word nourishes the righteous person and promotes ‘rightousness and justice’ (Gen. 18:19). A ‘right and just’ balance may be created in our world for everyone, whether rich or poor, if an attitudinal reversal takes place … from taking ‘the path that sinners tread’ (Ps. 1:1) to trusting in God and living out God’s Word. Now is the moment of opportunity.  

For Reflection and Discussion: [1] Do you think ‘trusting in God’ promotes right relationships with others? How? [2] How do you identify; poor or rich? How does God’s Word speak to you and how might you obey it whatever your circumstances?

Bibliography: Friberg, Analytical Greek lexicon (Canada, 2005); Levine, Witherington, The Gospel of Luke (Cambridge, 2018); Levine and Brettler, The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford, 2011); Bible (NRSV); The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford, 2014)