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From: Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes and the Curses

[20] And He (Jesus) lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are
you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. [21] Blessed are you that hunger
now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall
laugh. [22] Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you
and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
[23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Hea-
ven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. [24] But woe to you that are rich, for
you have received your consolation. [25] Woe to you that are full now, for you
shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. [26]
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false


20-49. These thirty verses of St. Luke correspond to some extent to the Sermon
on the Mount, an extensive account of which St. Matthew gives us in Chapters 5
to 7 in his Gospel. It is very likely that in the course of His public ministry in diffe-
rent regions and towns of Israel Jesus preached the same things, using different
words on different occasions. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit each evan-
gelist would have chosen to report those things which he considered most useful
for the instruction of his immediate readers—Christians of Jewish origin in the
case of Matthew, Gentile converts in the case of Luke. There is no reason why
one evangelist should not have selected certain items and another different ones,
depending on his readership, or why one should not have laid special stress on
some subjects and shortened or omitted accounts of others.

In this present discourse, we might distinguish three parts—the Beatitudes and
the curses (6:20-26); love of one’s enemies (6:27-38); and teaching on upright-
ness of heart (6:39-49).

Some Christians may find it difficult to grasp the need of practising the moral
teaching of the Gospel so radically, in particular Christ’s teaching in the Sermon
on the Mount. Jesus is very demanding in what He says, but He is saying it to
everyone, and not just to His Apostles or to those disciples who followed Him
closely. We are told expressly that “when Jesus finished these sayings, the
crowds were astonished at His teaching” (Matthew 7:28). It is quite clear that
the Master calls everyone to holiness, making no distinction of state-in-life, race
or personal circumstances. This teaching on the universal call to holiness was
a central point of the teaching of St. Escriva. The Second Vatican Council ex-
pressed the same teaching with the full weight of its authority: everyone is
called to Christian holiness; consider, for example, just one reference it makes,
in “Lumen Gentium”, 11: “Strengthened by so many and such great means of
salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state — though each in his
or her own way—are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which
the Father Himself is perfect.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is not proposing an unattainable ideal, useful
though that might be to make us feel humble in the light of our inability to reach
it. No. Christian teaching in this regard is quite clear: what Christ commands,
He commands in order to have us do what He says. Along with His command-
ment comes grace to enable us to fulfill it. Therefore, every Christian is capable
of practising the moral teaching of Christ and of attaining the full height of his
calling —holiness—not by his own efforts alone but by means of the grace which
Christ has won for us, and with the abiding help of the means of sanctification
which He left to His Church. “If anyone plead human weakness to excuse Him-
self for not loving God, it should be explained that He who demands our love
pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit the fervor of His love, and this good Spirit
our Heavenly Father gives to those that ask Him. With reason, therefore, did St.
Augustine pray: ‘Give Me what Thou command, and command what You please.’
As, then, God is ever ready to help us, especially since the death of Christ our
Lord, by which the prince of this world was cast out, there is no reason why any-
one should be disheartened by the difficulty of the undertaking. To him who loves,
nothing is difficult” (”St. Pius V Catechism”, III, 1, 7).

20-26. The eight Beatitudes which St. Matthew gives (5:3-12) are summed up in
four by St. Luke, but with four opposite curses. We can say, with St. Ambrose,
that Matthew’s eight are included in Luke’s four (cf. “Expositio Evangelii Sec.
Lucam, in loc.”). In St. Luke they are in some cases stated in a more incisive,
more direct form than in the First Gospel, where they are given with more expla-
nation: for example, the first beatitude says simply “Blessed are you poor”,
whereas in Matthew we read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, which contains
a brief explanation of the virtue of poverty.

20. “The ordinary Christian has to reconcile two aspects of this life that can at
first seem contradictory. There is on the one hand “true poverty”, which is ob-
vious and tangible and made up of definite things. This poverty should be an ex-
pression of faith in God and a sign that the heart is not satisfied with created
things and aspires to the Creator; that it wants to be filled with love of God so
as to be able to give this same love to everyone. On the other hand, an ordinary
Christian is and wants to be “one more among his fellow men”, sharing their
way of life, their joys and happiness; working with them, loving the world and
all the good things that exist in it; using all created things to solve the problems
of human life and to establish a spiritual and material environment which will fos-
ter personal and social development [...].

“To my way of thinking the best examples of poverty are those mothers and
fathers of large and poor families who spend their lives for their children and who
with their effort and constancy—often without complaining of their needs—bring
up their family, creating a cheerful home in which everyone learns to love, to
serve and to work” (St. J. Escriva, “Conversations”, 110f).

24-26. Our Lord here condemns four things: avarice and attachment to the things
of the world; excessive care of the body, gluttony; empty-headed joy and general
self-indulgence; flattery, and disordered desire for human glory—four very common
vices which a Christian needs to be on guard against.

24. In the same kind of way as in verse 20, which refers to the poor in the sense
of those who love poverty, seeking to please God better, so in this verse the “rich”
are to be understood as those who strive to accumulate possessions heedless
of whether or not they are doing so lawfully, and who seek their happiness in
those possessions, as if they were their ultimate goal. But people who inherit
wealth or acquire it through honest work can be really poor provided they are de-
tached from these things and are led by that detachment to use them to help
others, as God inspires them. We can find in Sacred Scriptures a number of peo-
ple to whom the beatitude of the poor can be applied although they possessed
considerable wealth—Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Job, for example.

As early as St. Augustine’s time there were people who failed to understand
poverty and riches properly: they reasoned as follows: The Kingdom of Heaven
belongs to the poor, the Lazaruses of this world, the hungry; all the rich are bad,
like this rich man here. This sort of thinking led St. Augustine to explain the deep
meaning of wealth and poverty according to the spirit of the Gospel: “Listen, poor
man, to my comments on your words. When you refer to yourself as Lazarus,
that holy man covered with wounds, I am afraid your pride makes you describe
yourself incorrectly. Do not despise rich men who are merciful, who are humble:
or, to put it briefly, do not despise poor rich men. Oh, poor man, be poor yourself;
poor, that is, humble [...].

Listen to me, then. Be truly poor, be devout, be humble; if you glory in your rag-
ged and ulcerous poverty, if you glory in likening yourself to that beggar lying
outside the rich man’s house, then you are only noticing his poverty, and nothing
else. What should I notice you ask? Read the Scriptures and you will understand
what I mean. Lazarus was poor, but he to whose bosom he was brought was rich.
‘It came to pass, it is written, that the poor man died and he was brought by the
angels to Abraham’s bosom.’ To where? To Abraham’s bosom, or let us say, to
that mysterious place where Abraham was resting. Read [...] and remember that
Abraham was a very wealthy man when he was on earth: he had abundance of
money, a large family, flocks, land; yet that rich man was poor, because he was
humble. ‘Abraham believed God and he was reckoned righteous.’ [...] He was
faithful, he did good, received the commandment to offer his son in sacrifice, and
he did not refuse to offer what he had received to Him from whom he had received
it. He was approved in God’s sight and set before us as an example of faith”
(”Sermon”, 14).

To sum up: poverty does not consist in something purely external, in having or
not having material goods, but in something that goes far deeper, affecting a per-
son’s heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude to God, in being
devout, in having total faith. If a Christian has these virtues and also has an abun-
dance of material possessions, he should be detached from his wealth and act
charitably towards others and thus be pleasing to God. On the other hand, if
someone is not well-off he is not justified in God’s sight on that account, if he
fails to strive to acquire those virtues in which true poverty consists.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 09/06/2011 7:17:04 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Mass Readings

First reading Colossians 3:1-11 ©
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
  That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry. And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up: getting angry, being bad-tempered, spitefulness, abusive language and dirty talk; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

Psalm Psalm 144:2-3,10-13

Gospel Luke 6:20-26 ©
Fixing his eyes on his disciples Jesus said:
‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.
Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.
Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.
‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.
Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.
‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

5 posted on 09/06/2011 7:20:11 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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