Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.” (Lk 6:20-23a)
A reward? As I was growing up, that would have been easy to name: Dairy Queen. We felt quite blessed when our parents took us to the Dairy Queen for a sundae or an ice cream cone.
Of course, there were other tangible blessings as well: Burger King, Kiddie Land, the beach, fishing vacations, and years and years of birthday and Christmas presents.
We often count our blessings, do we not, as those things that make us happy or bring some sense of fulfillment to us. That is the way that almost all human beings relate to their world.
It feels totally ludicrous to hear the Lord say that we are blessed if we poor or hungry or weeping or hated. When we are in those moments, the last thing that comes to our mind is, “Yippee. I’m feeling really blessed today!”
Rather, we try to get away from those kinds of situations. We do not want to have anything to do with them. Who wants to hurt or feel alienated or betrayed or hated?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is making a few rather bold statements.
First of all, he is reminding the people about their very human condition and about the fact that God loves them incredibly even in their pain and heartache and sorrow.
Jesus is also reminding the crowds about the example of the prophets who have come before Him and about how they were mistreated — even though they had been entrusted with God’s word.
In doing so, Jesus acknowledges that there are those in the crowd who will want to do away with Him and with anyone who brings God’s message to the people, just as they did to all the prophets before Him.
Yet, knowing all of this, God’s love remained constant. Jesus knew that people would attempt to betray Him and hand Him over but he remained with His people.
The blessing that is extended to each and every one of us? It is quite simple: In the midst of our struggles, God is with us, standing at our side.
FAITH ACTION: Do not count your struggles, your aches and your pains. Instead, take some time to count your many blessings and give thanks to God for them.