Sunday 13th of February
VI Sunday in ordinary time – Year C
Luke 6, 17.20-26
The journey on the steps of the Gospel, which this Sunday is set in the stupendous scenery of the valley, continues. Creation always takes on an important meaning, especially with this word of today which perhaps represents the official manifesto of Jesus’ teaching. Whom should we envy in the world? What are our models to imitate? Who is really lucky?
After having indicated the twelve, after having chosen them, despite all their defects, which are basically ours too, with the same twelve Jesus descends from the mountain in a flat place. Here we find creation with all its meanings which acts as a context and is also the protagonist of the story of Christ. He is in a flat place, he comes to meet us, towards us who cannot climb the mountain. From all sides flock, around the twelve flock all peoples. This is the beauty of the church, made up of a biodiversity of charisms, a place of shared limit. Jesus chooses everyone, each with their own defects. He comes from all over to listen and be healed. We have already said that the whole first part of Luke’s Gospel is a “logotherapy”, healing through words, the true great protagonist of Luke’s story.
The word proclaimed “today” in the synagogue of Nazareth, the word that heals humankind until the hand is healed, and gathers the crowds. What are these healing words? The words proclaimed today in a flat landscape are perhaps the most beautiful words in the whole Bible, perhaps the most beautiful ever written, because inside there is all the desire of the human being. All that is beautiful, good and attractive, but without the lie of sin and its illusions. Jesus shows us a sweet path which, if traveled by all of us, could only lead us to the year of grace proclaimed by the Lord, to be brothers and sisters all and in communion with all creation! These words, in the early church, represented baptismal catechesis, the Christian message was known from these words.
From the healing of the hand, Jesus forms his first church, and proclaims this word. The church is a bit like that healed hand, which can now welcome, touch, this word. It is nice to see, in the Gospel of Luke, how these events are all told in continuity, almost as if the narration really wants to tell us how everything is connected. We are like a beautiful fresco, but encrusted with many coats of paint and candle smoke, and this word does nothing but make us perceive in our depth, in our beauty, in our being creatures.
“Looking at his disciples, he said …” Jesus speaks from below, unlike ours, whom we always want to dominate. God is humble, he gets baptized in silence, he has great esteem for us, he gave his life for us. He came to serve, not to be served. Jesus goes down to the valley. The verb in the imperfect, “he said“, makes us understand that he often repeated them. Perhaps the apostles did not understand it, as indeed we, who continue not to understand.
“Blessed are you who are poor, because for yours is the kingdom of God“. He begins with “blessed“, that is “congratulations“! It overturns the common sense: for us, compliments are given to those who are lucky in life, to those who have power, recognition. To these we say “Laudato si“. Jesus addresses his personal “laudato si’ ” to the poor, to the pitocos: they are those poor who live on alms, invisible, who need everything. They are not blessed because they are poor, because they are desperate, but because “yours is the kingdom of God“. He addresses them directly, and says the kingdom is now for them. Today, not in the indefinite future. The kingdom of God belongs to the poor, the kingdom is God who reigns, serving. Love is poverty because it receives everything and gives everything in gratuitousness. This love reigns in a privileged way, in its poverty, giving all of itself, all in gratuitousness. Let us think of the immense gift of the air we breathe, a gift that God offers us every moment in complete gratuitousness, in poverty. Think of “possessing” that gift, what it would mean: it would be the killing of the gift, the denial of love. Francis of Assisi did not ask the friars, in the non-stamped rule, for the vow of poverty, but he asked them to “have nothing of their own“. Possession is the opposite of love.
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied“. Language is always strange: How can the hungry be blessed? Bliss lies in future satiety. We are always worried about being hungry, being killed, humiliated. The evil, however, is already being satiated, starving others, killing, humiliating others. The future contradicts the present, those who are hungry today will be satisfied. No food satisfies us now, despite our wealth, despite the injustice of the rich countries that devour the planet. And all this is not enough for us. These words reveal to us the action of God in history, as understood by Mary in the Magnificat.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh“. The cry and the weeping of the earth and of the poor already reveal today the future “risum pasqualis“, the definitive laughter. As in poverty and hunger, Jesus also identifies humankind’s essential feelings in weeping.
“Blessed are you, when people hate you” … Here are the actions of mankind: to hate, to ban, to insult, to contempt. Here Jesus seems to trace, in the Beatitudes, the self-portrait of himself, with the peculiar elements of his life, as narrated in Luke’s account. In fact, Jesus is born poor, migrant and rejected, hungry in the desert where he is tempted, he cries several times, over Jerusalem and in the face of the pain of his friends, is hated by the powerful and the Pharisees, banned from the temple of Jerusalem, insulted in the Sanhedrin, despised on the way to Calvary. He almost seems to tell us, in advance, that everything the world wants us to believe in is not the end of the story, but there is a surprise in it, there are those verbs in the future: there will be satiety, laughter, ‘hospitality’.
On that day when these things happen, jump for joy! Our reward is immense in the heavens. The reward is to be like Jesus, to be children! After the Beatitudes, there are no “curses”, but more warnings. “But woe to you!” Jesus says to warn. The second part of the text opens with a “but” that makes us understand that what follows is opposed to the first part. So what does this “trouble” mean? The opposite of “blessed”, that is of “I congratulate”, of “laudato si” is “woe”, that is “I’m sorry for you“, of “condolences“.
To the poor with whom he congratulates, Jesus opposes the rich, of whom he is sorry, because they already have their consolation, they are satisfied with little. The “consoler” par excellence, the Paraclete, is the Holy Spirit, he is the companionship par excellence, God with us, Emmanuel. If, on the other hand, we are satisfied with being comforted by material goods alone, we are destined to remain sad. Here too, as with poverty, at the center there is always the feeling that accompanies the possession of things, not so much in itself the condition of wealth. When wealth becomes sharing, in that case the true joy that comes from the Paraclete can reside.
“Woe to you who are rich“, who are “full”, because you can no longer eat because there is no space, you can no longer enjoy the table, the banquet. “Woe to you who laugh now“, almost sorry to Jesus when a sterile laughter abounds, when there is no possibility of igniting a new spark, an unexpected joy. Almost sorry to see everything that the world instead makes us deceive is the dream of all of us: to be rich, satiated, laugh, have fun, be recognized, have power. He is sorry when everything becomes possession, and it is not a gift.
These are words that heal us, heal the rushing crowds, raise man to his true dignity, to his true joy. That joy that will never be taken away. The church, our mission, should be nourished by this word, it is no coincidence that Jesus pronounces it on the plain immediately after choosing the twelve. As Saint Clare of Assisi says: “You certainly know that the Lord promises the kingdom of heaven and gives only to the poor, because when we love temporal things, we lose the fruit of charity; and that it is not possible to serve God and mammon, because either we love one and hate the other, or we serve the second and despise the first “(FF 2867).
Let us always thank the Lord for the gift of the word that saves, today, making us understand which of us is blessed for God, and who causes him displeasure. Let us pray that we learn to listen to this word that heals and satisfies, for which all the crowds of all times are very hungry. We sincerely wish you a happy Sunday.