Blessed by Suffering

Luke 6: 20-26
1 Cor 7: 25-31 / Ps 45: 11-12, 14-17

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
(Luke 6:23)

Blessed are the poor and hungry,
Blessed are they now in sorrow;
God will turn their tears to glory,
Theirs is God’s kingdom to follow.

Jesus looked up at His disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Reflection

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” These words were meant not only to give hope to those who are materially poor, but also to those who “have the spirit of the poor” in their hearts (Mt.5:3). It was Jesus’ mission “to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Lk. 4:18), and indeed, the poor heard Jesus’ words gladly. On the other hand, the rich and powerful establishment felt threatened and refused to accept His teachings. Even the rich young ruler who wanted to join Jesus’ company went away sad because of his attachment to his wealth. Which was why Jesus told His disciples, “It is easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt.19:24).

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Jesus here could be saying that there is a food that is more important than bread. It is a spiritual food that satisfies the soul. As He said, “He who feeds on this bread will live forever” (Jn.6:58). But “woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry” — even the little faith that the materially well-off have now will be taken away from them; since they are famished in spirit. “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4).

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Those who weep for the injustices in this world caused by the rich and powerful will have the last laugh. For in the end God’s justice will never fail. But it is not only for the injustices in this world that we weep; it must also be for repentance, for the sorrow of sins we committed. Tears of penitence wash away our sins, and they turn to tears of joy for being reconciled again with our Savior. But woe to those who never feel sorry for their sins; their laughter will eventually turn to wailing.

And finally, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets..” You would indeed be in the company of God’s saints if you can maintain your composure in the face of persecutions like insults, intrigues and false accusations from enemies and colleagues alike. In the modern context, or to be more specific, in the dog-eat-dog world of today’s businesses and professions, standing up for the values of Christ can mean being alienated, ridiculed, and even losing a lucrative deal or commission. But this is how Christ expects us to win the marketplace, and in the end, the righteous will be vindicated.

Thank You, Father God, for the grace of consolation in times of want, sorrow, persecution or failure; may they cause us to grow stronger in faith and in humble submission to Your will. We put our complete trust in Your hands that form us like the potter his clay. Amen.

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