Sunday Reflection - 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Posted: Sat, 12 Feb 2022 11:28
Over the next three weeks we will be sharing Luke's 'Sermon on the Plain' that corresponds to Matthew's 'Sermon on the Mount.' Today's gospel starts with Jesus coming down from the mountain: he has spent time in retreat with these twelve new friends. He comes down from the place of encounter with God and, immediately, wants to share that goodness of God. We are told that a huge crowd gathered to listen to the wisdom that Jesus was prepared to share. The message that is given has come to be known as the beatitudes—attitudes that we need for daily living. Attitudes that will challenge and stretch us. Attitudes that bring us into the reign of God.
Maya Angelou tells the story of her aunt who was the housekeeper of a fabulously wealthy couple in Los Angeles: they had everything from their eighteen bedroomed home to manicured lawns and a private pool. They are in a huge dining room at a large table that only seemed to highlight their isolation. Nobody came to visit them anymore, and, despite their wealth, they were two lonely people. On the other hand, their housekeeper entertained every Saturday night. Friends and family would come to share good food, wine, dancing and fun. Sadly, her employers would come down to the basement of their palatial basement and listen to the laughter and music. In their great richness, they saw their poverty and pain. They realised that it was their housekeeper who was in love with life and wanted to share that love with others. You can make a difference in your own unique and simplest of ways. That housekeeper's niece was able to go on to write:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.
In my own experience, I have been blessed to find riches in the most simple of situations. It could be sharing a game of cards or sharing memories over a cup of coffee. As the incarnation proves, God came to us in the ordinary—we find our God in the lives and lives of others. In laughter, tears, joy and sorrow, we can discover our path to the Lord. In the simplicity of life, we find our true riches in those who are there for us. It is so true that you find out who your true friends are when life goes pear shaped! Those who are prepared to stand by you in those horrible experiences of life when you are abused, hated and denounced you—these are your true richness. Thank God for them for they are your true life savers. We are invited to be there for each other, in spite of our differences—this gives us reason enough to believe and trust in the future, as we find our true wealth in our own poverty.
In the wonderful Frank Cottrell-Boyce book, 'Millions' we see the usual attitudes towards wealth displayed: many of the characters see money as a blessing and want plenty of it—they like the luxury extra money can bring. It takes the hero of the story, young Damian to see that true wealth is found in relationships. Through a series of imaginary meetings with his favourite saints, Damian eventually finds his true wealth in meeting up with his dead mother. The money that the family has is eventually shared with a village in Africa, providing them with a clean and safe water supply.
In the spirit of his Nazareth mandate, Jesus helps us to understand that we find God in the contradictions of life:
- Happy the poor
- Happy the hungry
- Happy the sad
Poverty, hunger and sadness are not objectively good, but they are a challenge to each of us to bring our own richness, fullness and happiness. The challenge of the Beatitudes is to be the change we want to see in the world. They help us see what our true attitudes in life can be. Our humanity is a gift that we can share with others. Thomas Merton reminds us as to what is important in life:
Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.
Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB