February 17, 2019

6th Sun., Ordinary Time

February 17, 2019:  Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

See a dozen connections with today?
Legend below
"Beatitunes" (gospel)
Psalm 1-inspired (also 1st reading theme)
Check out Ed Bolduc's blog
For next Sunday
Pope Francis

Angelus:  In the beatitudes Jesus opens his eyes to us, makes us see with his gaze, beyond appearances, beyond the surface, and teaches us to discern with faith.  Jesus declares blessed the poor, the hungry, the afflicted, and the persecuted and admonishes the rich whom people acclaim.  The "woes," to those doing well today, are to "awaken" them from the deception of selfishness and open them up to love.

Today's gospel invites us to reflect on the meaning of faith, trusting the Lord, who alone can give us the fullness we desire.  Many promise happiness, success, profit, and magical solutions.  It's easy to slip into idolatry, to replace God with an idol.  But Jesus opens our eyes to reality.  We're called to be happy, blessed, and become so when we put ourselves on the side of God, of his Kingdom, of what endures, when we recognize ourselves as needy before God, and, if, like and with him, we're close to the poor, the afflicted, and the hungry.

The Beatitudes warn us not to place our trust in transitory things.  The Lord helps us open our eyes, acquire a penetrating look at reality, and heal from the myopia the worldly spirit infects us with; he shakes us up and makes us recognize what really enriches us and gives us joy and dignity.

Pray for the Protection of Minors meeting:   All the Episcopal Conference Presidents will be at the meeting, as an act of pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge.  I want it to be an assembly of Pastors, a catechetical and working gathering, characterized by prayer and discernment.  The meeting will include plenary sessions, working groups, common prayer, testimonies, a penitential liturgy, and a closing Mass.  I'll be present for it all, and Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ will moderate the plenary sessions.  The goal is that all Bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat sexual abuse of minors.  Global problems can only be resolved with global responses.

    Today's gospel is from the Sermon on the "Plain"
  • Jer 17:5-8  Those who trust in human beings, who turn away from the Lord, are like barren bushes standing in waste, but those who trust and hope in the Lord are like trees planted beside water that stretch out its roots to the stream:  their leaves stay green, and they bear fruit.
  • Ps 1:1-4,6  "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord"; they're like trees planted near running water, yielding fruit, prospering, but the wicked are like chaff the wind drives away.  The Lord watches over the just.
  • 1 Cor 15:12,16-20  Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
  • Lk 6:17,20-26  "Blessed are you poor; God's kingdom is yours.  You hungry will be satisfied.  You who weep will laugh.  Rejoice when people hate, exclude, insult, and denounce you; your reward will be great in heaven.  But woe to you rich; you've received your consolation.  You who are filled now will be hungry.  You who laugh now will grieve...."
  • Creighton:  We prefer verdant tress, fertile soil, fruitful life, satisfaction blessing, comfort, approval, and laughter to barren bushes, parched lava, withering death, hunger, thirst, curses, mourning, rejection, and grieving, but we don't always get what we want.  Sometimes we choose not to fulfill a desire, or to sacrifice goods, to achieve a greater good; we're created with freedom to make such choices.  If we choose to sin, say by using the wrong means to attain some good, we cause trouble; it may seem easier, but it won't lead to true happiness.  Going against the current takes vigilance and courage.  We must discern by reference to eternal truths, not immediate consequences.  Justice will come.  Whom do we trust?  Are we willing to experience distress because we hold on to unpopular truths?...
  • One Bread, One Body:  Jesus says, "Blessed are you poor" and "Woe to you rich," though the rich don't like to hear their lives may be wasted and the poor don't like the idea that God may never want them rich.  Jesus, who died and rose for us, calls each of us to give our life to him.  Will you listen and repent, or hold "him up to contempt"?
  • Passionist:  The 1st reading presents a decision that pivots the outcome of our lives. Shall I trust in myself, others, or fleeting things, and cut myself off from the Source of life, or trust in and follow God and bear fruit?  The 2nd reading declares that Jesus' resurrection testifies that in God we find love stronger than death, so we can live in hope.  In the gospel, Jesus tells us we find life when we build God's kingdom.  May we seek justice, feed the hungry, comfort the sorrowful, and stay faithful to Christ whatever the cost.
    Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Plain
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Blessed are you poor; God's kingdom is yours":  No one can escape trials.  Jesus gave his disciples a "way of happiness" that transcends difficulty and trouble.  'Beatitude' means happiness/blessedness.  Jesus' way demands transformation from within, conversion only possible through the Spirit's gift and work.  To be happy, we must empty ourselves of whatever shuts God out.  The poor in spirit possess God alone as their treasure.  Spiritual hunger seeks nourishment and strength in God's word. Sorrow and mourning over sin leads to freedom.
Ambrose links the beatitudes with the four cardinal virtues:  "See how Luke encompassed the eight blessings in the four.  There are four cardinal virtues:  temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude.  One poor in spirit is not greedy.  One who weeps is submissive and tranquil, not proud.  One who mourns is humble.  One who's just doesn't deny what's given to all for us.  One who's merciful gives away his goods.  One who bestows his goods doesn't seek another's or contrive traps.  These virtues are interwoven, so that we see that one with one has several.  Where virtue abounds, so too the reward; thus temperance has purity of heart and spirit, justice compassion, patience peace, and endurance gentleness" (Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 5.62–63, 68, paraphrased).
God reveals to the humble the true source of happiness. Jesus promises heaven's joys will more than compensate for this world's troubles and hardships. "No one can live without joy. One deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures" (Thomas Aquinas).
Dress legend
  • Flesh-colored suspenders:  Those who seek strength in flesh,... (1st reading)
  • 'Heart' clip:  ...whose heart turns away from the Lord,... (1st reading)
  • 'Tree with green leaves' pin:  ...are like barren bushes standing in a waste; those who trust and hope in the Lord are like trees stretching out their roots to the stream, whose leaves stay green (1st reading); those who delight in the Lord's law are like trees... (psalm)
  • 'Fruit' pin:  ...yielding fruit (1st reading, psalm)
  • 'Resurrection cross' (robes, no Christ):  How can you say there's no resurrection? Christ has been raised... (2nd reading)
  • 'People' tie:  Crowd (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  Jesus raised his eyes toward his disciples (gospel)
  • 'Musical notes with "joy"' pin:  Leap for joy when people hate, exclude, insult, or denounce you (gospel)
  • 'Prize' pin:  Your reward will be great in heaven (gospel)
  • 'Money bag' pin:  Woe to you rich (gospel)

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