Wednesday, September 9, 2015 ~ Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Holy Gospel: Luke 6:20-26 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. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”
Meditation: Luke’s version of The Beatitudes is less familiar than that of Matthew (Mt 5:1-12a) but the message remains the same. When you encounter misfortune, grief, or tragic loss, how do you respond? With fear or with faith? With passive resignation or with patient hope and trust in God? We know from experience that no one can escape all of the inevitable trials of life – pain, suffering, sickness, and death. When Jesus began to teach his disciples he gave them a “way of happiness” that transcends every difficulty and trouble that can weigh us down with grief and despair. Jesus began his sermon on the mount by addressing the issue of where true happiness can be found. The word beatitude literally means happiness or blessedness. Jesus’ way of happiness, however, demands a transformation from within – a conversion of heart and mind which can only come about through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit. At some point in our lives we come to recognize that true happiness can only be fulfilled through God and his Son, Jesus Christ. But in relation to today’s Gospel, wow can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? If we want to be filled with the joy and happiness of heaven, then we must empty ourselves of all that would shut God out of our hearts. Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God alone as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and oppression.
Prayer: O God, who made Saint Peter Claver a slave of slaves and strengthened him with wonder charity and patience as he came to their help, grant, through his intercession, that, seeking the things of Jesus Christ, we may love our neighbor in deeds and in truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world. Saint Thomas Aquinas once said: “No person can live without joy. That is why someone deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.” Do you know the joy and happiness of hungering and thirsting for God, and God alone? Explore this, and you will discover a life of true joy, peace and happiness.