Jeremiah 17:5-8, 1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20, Luke 6:17,20-26
Today, the sixth Sunday of Ordinary time, the Church invites us to place our trust in God and in his only son Jesus Christ. These readings provide us with two ways of living; those who trust in mere mortals and those who trust in the Lord. Through his resurrection, Christ conquered death and strengthened our faith and hope of eternal life. Our faith then should have their stronghold in Jesus the giver of life. Today’s readings then pronounce blessings on those who trust God and curses on those who do not.
The first reading from the book of Jeremiah succinctly reminds us of the consequences of trusting solely on our abilities, on our human strength and on human beings: “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” Through this, we are reminded that all these will fail us because, our success and survival do not depend solely on them.
The second reading then emphasized on whom and where we should anchor our faith, which is in Christ Jesus. The epistle tells us that if Christ has not risen from the dead our hope is dead. Our faith is a joke. Empty. Meaningless, “But,” writes St. Paul, “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1Cor 15: 20). This message is the core of our Faith. Without it Christianity is either the dumbest or most evil religion ever. Jesus Christ is the foundation stone on where our faith lies. Among all great teachers and avatars that existed, Jesus is the only one among every founder of religion that resurrected from the dead.
The Gospel today presents four blessings and four curses in Luke’s Gospel. Some call this discourse the “discourse on the plain” because, according to Luke, Jesus came down from the mountain and stopped in a place which was flat and there He pronounced His discourse. In Matthew’s Gospel, this same discourse is given on the mountain (Mt 5:1) and is called “The Sermon on the Mount.” In Matthew, in this discourse there are eight Beatitudes, which trace a program of life for the Christian communities of Jewish origin. In Luke, the sermon is shorter and more radical. It contains only four Beatitudes and four curses, directed to the Hellenistic communities, formed by rich and poor. The Gospel pronounced blessings also on four categories of people and their rewards; on the poor, Mathew made it explicit, that the blessing is not just for any poor fellow but the poor in Spirit. Theirs is the kingdom of God. Then the hungry, those who weep now and those excluded, reviled and insulted on account of the Son of Man. They are going to have their fill, laugh and rejoice for surely their reward is great in heaven. In the gospel similar to the first reading, Jesus pronounced curses on some categories of people: those who have wealth, those who are full, those who laugh now, and those who seek for people’s approval and praises. The world is immersed in a lust for pleasure and riches; immersed in consumables and lost of faith in God. Not that Jesus detests wealth but those who put all their faith and love for it forgetting Him who is the foundation of our life. So the gospel begins with a blessing for those who are ready to do God’s will. The beatitude is a great song which calls us to a life of virtue, reflection and total surrender to God’s will. It is Christ’s song which calls us to trust firmly in God, while looking forward to eternity. These blessings are for those who are totally and willingly ready to place everything in God’s hands. The beatitudes also remind us that all we do and work for here will gain us eternal life. That is, if we do them for the sake of God.
For those who simply put their trust in Jesus. It is not that they will experience no adversity, No! But they are rooted in their relationship to God, a relationship that nurtures them through adversity and keeps them from despair. Everything works for good for those who love God. It is not enough to simply turn away from something like sin; we must also turn towards God! Millions believe in God, they believe He exists, but they do not place their trust in God.
To trust in the Lord means more than believing in whom He is and what He says; the word here for trust can also mean “to have confidence in.” Having confidence in something means having an assurance that leads to action. Trust in the Lord is a faith that lets us boldly serve and lead us to do something believing that God is steering the wheel. This confidence should infuse our whole being. Trusting in the Lord is the only path to life, and nowhere is this seen more fully than in the life and work of Christ. In His life, He trusted the Father totally, even to His death; through His work on the cross, his resurrection which is the basis of our faith as explained in the second reading.
The word of the Lord has power to create and power to destroy, to bestow curses or blessings. Man is constituted that we must make a choice. We can trust in mere flesh or we can trust in God. We cannot have it both ways. To turn toward something other than the Lord is to turn away from the Lord. We cannot face both directions at the same time. It is not a sin to trust people, but it is a sin to trust in people, to invest our deepest faith in another person and to derive our dearest hope from that person, to give that person the place in our hearts that rightfully belongs to God. We might be tempted to invest our ultimate trust in an ideology or philosophical system or some get rich schemes. So many people put their trust in drugs to live other than God that gives life. Many trust in their own wisdom, wealth, strength and resources. The more gifted or wealthy we are, the more this is likely to be our temptation. The first reading used desert to describe those that put their faith mortals. The desert shrub is a metaphor for a person living under harsh circumstances. Deserts are hot and arid. Survival under such conditions is difficult. Furthermore, desert shrubs are not very productive. How many desert shrubs produce abundant fruit, as do apple trees and orange trees? The person who places his/her ultimate trust in mere mortals can expect to live a marginal existence.
I will stop this reflection with my five ‘do not trust commandments”
- Do not place your trust in weapons; “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). “He who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword” (Revelation 13:9).
- Do not place your trust in wealth or riches; Paul wrote: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). We must place our trust in God, not in money.
- Do not place your trust in yourself; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
- Do not place your trust in man or in governments: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8,9). “Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help” (Psalm 146:3). Some people expect the government or some political system to solve their problems. Any form of government is bad if the people in charge are bad, and most politicians are not known for their goodness. The only resources the government has come from God. Trust in God rather than in governments
- Do not place your trust in words of men. Man will always disappoint but God can never disappoint you. “Those who trust in the Lord Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Psalm 125:1). Do not place your trust in weapons, in riches, in yourself, in man, in governments or in the lying words of a godless society. Put your trust in God. God bless you.
Fr. Sanctus Mario