Luke 6:17, 20-26
6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
The word beatitude means “utmost bliss.” Think about what your idea of bliss is…if we’re talking my regular day-to-day life, a bowl of hot, creamy, homemade macaroni and cheese on a cold winter day pretty much blisses me out. That’s bliss alright, but not utmost bliss. Utmost bliss, the bliss Jesus preached about in the Beatitudes (this week’s gospel from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, a counterpart to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount), is taking my bowl of mac and cheese and making it a million times better—which I have no idea how to do! But that’s what the Kingdom of God is—both in heaven and right here on earth—one million times better than anything we can even begin to fathom.
There’s a kicker, though; it seems like there’s always a kicker with Jesus. His idea of utmost bliss isn’t our idea of utmost bliss. It’s pretty much upside down from how we usually think.
Take the first of Luke’s beatitudes…”Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of my life working very hard NOT to be poor. I’ve worked hard to give my kids the tools they need to succeed, and success, at least in part, means not being poor. What could possibly be blissful about being poor?
But what happens when you are unable to supply for your family’s basic needs? Where do you turn? You have no choice but to go to God. He might send a neighbor over with food or show you where a food bank is or even point you in the direction of a job. It might not be food you necessarily like or a job you necessarily want to do, but if you are really hungry, you are grateful to have anything at all.
That’s the kind of poor Jesus is talking about—knowing that all we really have is God. It also means being grateful for whatever He provides, even if you think you don’t really like it.
If you think money is the magic bullet that protects you against the evils of the world, it doesn’t matter whether you have money or not, you’re not Jesus’s kind of poor. On the flipside, you can have money in the bank and still be Jesus’s poor if you truly understand that money only buys things, and eventually all things turn to dust. Money buys a beautiful house that crumbles in a hurricane. But God won’t ever crumble. If you are Jesus’s kind of poor, you know that God is all we can depend on. Always has been, and always will be. And because you are grateful to Him for His presence, you want to share His gifts—however much or little you have.
When Jesus concluded that if you are poor…”the kingdom of God is yours,” He meant that if you know the only thing you can rely on absolutely is God, you “get” His Kingdom which makes you a part of it! When you know you need God more than anything else in your life, you are partners with Jesus, and what’s more blissful than that? With or without mac and cheese…