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Sunday Homily

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

To be celebrated on 17th February 2019

Gospel reading  Luke 6:17, 20-26
vs.17
  Jesus came down with the Twelve and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon
vs.18
  who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. People tormented by unclean spirits were also cured.
vs.19 
and everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.
vs.20
  Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said: “How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
vs.21
  Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied. Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.
vs.22 
Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.
vs.23
  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.
vs.24
  But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
vs.25
  Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry. Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.
vs.26 
Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.

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We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose .

Michel DeVerteuil :     A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin:  Professor of Historical Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter.
Sean Goan:                    Studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock College and works with Le Chéile
Donal Neary SJ:         Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger and National Director of The Apostleship of Prayer.

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Michel DeVerteuil
Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospels
www.columba.ie

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General comments

On this Sunday and the next, the gospel readings are extracts from St. Luke’s account of the “sermon on the mount” which in his gospel should really be called the “sermon on the plain.

Jesus “fixes his eyes” on us so that we can get to know him well and recognise his presence among us. His loving look is also a call to conversion so that we may be more like him.

“How happy are you who are poor!” This is not an abstract statement but a joyful exclamation at the greatness of the people he sees before him. It reminds us of another text which says that Jesus was “filled with joy by the Holy Spirit” as he contemplated the wisdom of the little ones to whom God had revealed things which he had hidden from the “learned and the clever”.

Jesus is so different from us. We tend to relate to the poor in a condescending way. Even when we love them we do it pityingly, we call them “disadvantaged” or “less fortunate than ourselves,” we want to “do things for them”, even to “pray for them.”

Right through his life Jesus did the opposite. In the presence of those his society considered poor – the “little ones,” “sinners”, “tax-collectors and prostitutes” – he felt inspired, was filled with awe, and he told them so. “Yours is the kingdom of God,” means that they are the ones who have the wisdom and the courage to make the kingdom a reality in the world.

We now see why St Luke says that Jesus “stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering”. He didn’t want to talk down to people; he would “cure them of their diseases” by conversing with them at their level, entering into the greatness he saw in the midst of their poverty, hunger and tears.

He knew that like many poor people, they tended to look up to the ruling elites, the superstars of his time, with awe, perhaps with some envy, so he urged them not to be intimidated by their shallowness and false values. They must remain true to their own values and then their hunger would be satisfied and their weeping would become laughter and celebration.

There are “great crowds of people” in our country, who need to be cured of many diseases – lack of self-confidence, fear of failure, narrow-mindedness. Not many are willing to do like Jesus, leave their homes and air-conditioned offices and come down to the level ground to “fix their eyes on them”, converse with them, enter into their greatness and their wisdom. Some pretend to do it, but not sincerely. They praise the poor but secretly look down on them, utter platitudes and do not “exclaim” from the heart as Jesus does in this passage. A real challenge for us who are parents, community workers, teachers, church ministers.

St Luke says that Jesus’ disciples were “gathered with the crowd.” That is our church, a community of ordinary people, needing healing like the rest of humanity, “sharing the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor and afflicted” (Second Vatican Council).

Scripture Reflection Prayer

Lord, we thank you for Jesus and people like him

who come down and stop at a piece of level ground,

where we and a great crowd of people are gathered

looking for a word of compassion and to be cured of our diseases.

We thank you for those who re-assure us that we are not bad,

that the kingdom of God is in our hands,

and even though right now we feel hunger, and weep bitter tears,

we can be confident of the future.

We thank you for our ancestors in this country, grandparents, mothers and fathers,

who taught us how to rejoice and dance for joy

even when people look down on us, drive us out, abuse us, denounce our names as criminals.

Send the same Spirit of Wisdom on the many people in our society who are very rich,faith changes everything

but that is all the consolation they have,

who seem to have their fill but are very hungry,

who outwardly are laughing but when you get to know them are mourning and weeping,

who are well spoken of by the world but are false prophets in fact.

 

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Donal Neary S.J.
Gospel reflections
www.messenger.ie/bookshop

  6th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Feeling Peace  – at the centre of the Beatitudes

On one of my first visits to a Jesuit house, I felt a huge peace – maybe the beginning of a vocation. In bereavement there can be a moment of peace, which seems to come from nowhere: peace of being totally loved by a good friend or spouse, peace, just peace with the children.

There is a peace that comes from faith and love and that is prayer: peace that comes from knowing I am heard, understood and loved.

There is a huge need for listening now, for knowing that people care in our world of suicides, addictions to alcohol. We can feel we live in an impersonal world of anxiety and isolation. We need the peace of honest conversation and openness, and the peace of being forgiven.

Peace is not evading difficulty. You are mad worried about  a child – somewhere in the middle, like gold in the mud, you find the peace of knowing God’s love for you and for him or her. That needs time and a bit of prayer.

It is good to sit each day in silence. Allow this peace to get into you. Breathe in and out, just saying the word peace. That is God’s gift to you. There is also a peace from God in doing good and doing the right thing. Jesus knew it was the best gift he could give. It comes from love.

Back to my first visit that day – what caused the peace? I don’t know fully. We can be surprised when we will be graced with the peace o Jesus Christ which the world cannot give.

Give each of us O Lord,  that peace beyond all understanding.