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Spirituality
Simple, straightforward, and serious Print E-mail
Sunday scripture column

Kevin Perrotta

Sunday, Feb. 17

SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Jer 17:5-8
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
1 Cor 15:12, 16-20
Lk 6:17, 20-26

There's nothing obscure about Luke's Gospel. Jesus says that those who are poor, hungry, grieving, and persecuted are to be congratulated because they're on the way to great happiness.

Those who are wealthy, satisfied, enjoying what the world has to offer, and admired by everyone are to be lamented because they're going to end up miserable. Such a simple message. What could need explanation?

Okay, perhaps it's worth noting that Jesus is talking about our situation in the age to come, on the other side of death, and God's final evaluation of our lives.

And it may be helpful to clarify that Jesus doesn't mean that God wants anyone to be hungry or that being hungry by itself guarantees future fulfillment. Eternal happiness is assured for the hungry person who nevertheless trusts in God. Compare Jesus' statement in Matthew's Gospel: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:3).

If we want to know more than that, Jesus has provided us with his own commentary: his story about a starving man named Lazarus and a rich man who didn't help him (Lk 16:19-31).

I read of a Jesuit priest who works in a Central American city with children who scrounge for food in a dump. When asked if he preached to them, he said it is difficult to hold the attention of a boy when he's fighting with a crow over a chicken bone.

Only Jesus can wisely utter words of blessing (and woe) during our trials. He alone has paid the price of these assurances. Let us listen to what Jesus says and apply it to living.


Kevin Perrotta is the editor and an author of the Six Weeks with the Bible series (Loyola Press), teaches part-time at Siena Heights University, and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 

 
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