Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all of you!
6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Jer 17; 5-8; 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20; Lk 6:17, 20-26
February 12/13, 2022
Tap into your imagination for a few minutes. Imagine yourself being present that day in the Gospel.
Imagine Jesus walking onto a large flat area. (We all have an image of Jesus. Long brown hair parted down the middle; thin, narrow nose; sandals and brown tunic.) Now, imagine a great crowd of people who following him from Judea, Jerusalem, and the coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon.
See that large group. Eighty-five percent are ordinary people, the hoi polloi, people you can barely tell apart, the poor and oppressed, Jewish folk but also many foreigners from Tyre and Sidon, all people without any real social value. Imagine the other 15% who came from Jerusalem, the important people, those society valued, no doubt quite remarkable.
What do you hear Jesus say? He blesses the common ones and he woes the important.
Imagine the looks on the faces of the people when they heard this.
Imagine hearing Jesus telling the insignificant people they are blessed when hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced. He tells those who are thrown away by society that they are blessed. He tells them to “rejoice and leap for joy!” They are perplexed because people rejoice in things that have value; they dance for joy only in good times. They wonder to themselves, “Do we have value? Are we good?”
Now imagine hearing Jesus telling the important people they that they should beware. They are perplexed. Why should they be concerned? They have good fortune, security, and their satisfaction in life?
Okay, now you can stop imagining. With which group of people did you identify? Did you feel blessed or woed?
The Beatitudes are a basis for the moral life, that is, how we are to live. What do we learn today?
If Jesus blesses the insignificant, the poor, the foreigner, and the oppressed, then so must we. If that is true, then who are those people we are to bless? Let me offer suggestions.
The unborn. Many of us who say we are pro-life but are we willing to take in an unwanted child?
The terminally ill. How many of us want to be around someone who is dying?
The handicapped. How many of us see them as people with dignity, or do we only see their handicap?
The homeless. How many of us ignore them and their existence in our neighborhoods?
The migrant. How many of us deny them their human dignity?
Those who have injured us. How many of us demand revenge and repayment?
The mentally ill. How many of us pity them, but not love them?
Radical stuff…. stuff upon which we will be judged someday.
Now, I ask you to look at the crucifix. It is the last part of this homily. Who do you see? Jesus, yes. Look deeper. Who do you see in Him?
Jesus was a “questionable pregnancy.” His mother Mary, about 14 years old, was found pregnant and the father was not Joseph. Can you imagine the scuttlebutt that went around? Questions about Mary’s character; questions about paternity. People thinking it was an unwanted pregnancy. How quickly we judge the circumstances of pregnant women and their children.
Jesus was a “terminal case” as he hung on the cross. He was dying. In fact, people wanted to hurry his death along. Be done with it before sundown. Put him out of his misery. People fled the scene rather than be around a dying man… everyone except Mary, John, and a few faithful women.
Jesus was a homeless man. He had nowhere to lay his head.
Jesus was a migrant. He had been a foreigner. He fled to Egypt for a better life. Just like migrants in our day.
Jesus was someone the Pharisees thought harmed them. They demanded vengeance… “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Show no mercy!”
Jesus was considered mentally ill by many who knew him, especially those from his home town we are told.
Yes, the crucifix is an explanation and meditation on the Beatitudes. It is a guide for the moral life. Put a crucifix in your home and look at it.
Do you now see why Jesus blessed all those common, insignificant people?
Do you see now why he woed the 15% who were the uncommon ones, the ones of high value in society?
Blessed is this parish! A common but blessed parish! Blessed are we who are hungry for the Eucharist! Blessed are we who weep for our losses! Blessed are we when we are excluded because we believe! We are worth more than we can possibly imagine! Blessed are we indeed.