The Ultimate Decision

Luke 6: 20-26
Col 3: 1-11 / Psa 145

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

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

Looking at His disciples, Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your consolation. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)

Reflection

Jesus was addressing this teaching primarily to His disciples (and us), but at the same time He was also issuing a warning to those who preferred to follow their worldly desires that their selfish and short-term goals would only end in eternal misery. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” These words give hope to those who are materially poor (now), as well as to those who are “poor in spirit” (Mt.5:3). “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your consolation.” The rich young ruler could not join the company of Jesus, and went away sad because of his great 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). Woe to those who put their trust in their wealth and in this short span of life, for as St. Paul said, “If only for this life we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1Cor.15:19).

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Jesus is saying that there is a food that is more important than bread, 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 well fed now, for you will go hungry” — the little faith that the fat and contented have will be taken away from them since they are famished in spirit. Jesus would later give as an example the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus. (Lk.16:19-31)

“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 prevail. However, 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 you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.” To those who laugh and cheer, who never feel sorry for their sins; their laughter will eventually turn to wailing.

And finally, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” 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 today’s businesses and professions, standing up for the values of Christ can mean being alienated, ridiculed, and even losing a lucrative deal. But this is how Christ expects us to win the marketplace, and in the end, the righteous will be vindicated.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asking us to make a decision, the most important decision in our life: do we take up our cross and follow Him, as the saints like St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Mother Teresa have done, or are we going to take the “wide gate and broad road” of this world that He has warned us will only lead to destruction? (Mt.7:13)

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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