“Blessed are you who are poor…blessed are you who are hungry…blessed are you who are weeping…blessed are you when people hate you…Familiar words that we might have heard several times already. But wait! Woe to you who are rich…woe to you who are filled now…woe to you who laugh…woe to you when all speak well of you….most probably the second part is a little bit unfamiliar to us. If they are unfamiliar to us, I’m not surprised because this is Luke’s version of “The Beatitudes”. “Blessed are you who are poor…blessed are you who are hungry…blessed are you who are weeping…blessed are you when people hate you…Familiar words that we might have heard several times already. But wait! Woe to you who are rich…woe to you who are filled now…woe to you who laugh…woe to you when all speak well of you….most probably the second part is a little bit unfamiliar to us. If they are unfamiliar to us, I’m not surprised because this is Luke’s version of “The Beatitudes”.
Most of us are familiar with Matthew’s version of The Beatitudes. The setting of its delivery is part of what we now know as the “Sermon on the Mount”. There are many paintings depicting Jesus sitting on top of a hill preaching with his followers sitting down and attentively listening to him. Luke’s version is a little bit different. Instead of Jesus preaching from a hill, Jesus is preaching on a plain. This not really that popular, and I am yet to see a painting of Jesus preaching on a plain. The difference must have been based on the people that these two evangelists were writing to. And yet the message for all of us couldn’t be very different.
Blessed are you who are poor… does this mean that we have to live in destitution to be able to receive the kingdom of God? Well … if it were that easy, I should leave the comforts of the presbytery and head to the nearest slum and live there because I’m assured of the kingdom of God. What Jesus means is the poor in the sense that they have shared whatever blessings they have received with those who needed it most. We all know that those who share, those who are extremely generous will never become filthy rich. That is why the warning … woe to you who are filled now, you have received your consolation.
Blessed are you who are hungry … does this mean that we have to stop eating to be satisfied later on when the kingdom of God comes? With this we have to go back to Matthew’s version of the Beatitudes. In Matthew, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” It means that we should fight for justice and equality. We should be the voice of those who are not receiving a “Fair Go”. And later on, with God’s help we will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping … does this mean that we have to cry and be miserable all the time? We should weep and cry not for ourselves but because of the cruelty that is happening in our society. We should weep because of the millions of lives that are lost through abortion. We should weep because of the destruction of our environment, which is God’s creation. We should weep because of people who are forced to live in poverty because of people who wanted to get rich. If we weep for these … one day we’ll laugh when God’s justice is implemented.
Blessed are you when people hate you … ever since the Church began the Church have always been persecuted for a variety of reasons and living as a Christian today is no exception. Everybody who would want to follow Jesus must be prepared to be hated. Whenever the Church is preaching its stand against abortion, traditional marriage, condemnation of capitalists abuses, care for the environment, prepared to be vilified, insulted and even in some cases go to jail because of it. If that’s not enough, there are still Christians who are being persecuted in some countries because they’re Christians.
The Beatitudes are a reminder for all of us of how to live as Christians. The Beatitudes are also a promise of reward for all who persevere in living its values. But let us work not because of the reward but because we love Jesus, our brothers and sisters, and we want to be like him.