07 Sept, Wednesday of Week 23

Col 3:1ff. You have been raised from the dead with Christ. So set your heart where Christ is, at God’s right hand, and not on evil deeds.

Lk 6:20ff. The Beatitudes, spoken to a large crowd, in the Sermon on the Plain, Luke’s equivalent to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount.

No Lasting City

We have here no lasting city. The seriousness of Luke’s Beatitudes becomes more apparent as we compare them with Matthew’s which are somewhat theoretical and more general. Luke’s are more simple and direct. Matthew’s are addressed not to the crowd, but to the disciples who alone follow Jesus up the mountain, and are phrased in the third person, “How blessed are the poor in spirit, for the reign of God is theirs.” Luke portrays Jesus as coming down the mountain to a level stretch where many of his disciples and a large crowd of people came to hear him. His Beatitudes are closer to Jesus’ original words, phrased in the second person: Blessed you who are poor; the reign of God is yours.. you who hunger; you shall be filled. Luke, therefore, is not writing a general, catechetical discourse but is specifically and immediately addressing “you poor” and “you who hunger.” As we carefully re-read this Gospel, we are told, rather bluntly, that God accomplishes more with our poverty than with our wealth, more with our fith than with our activity. Poverty and faith have nothing to lose and an almost infinite variety of choices before them. Wealth and specialization restrict a person’s options and weigh that person down with anxieties. Yet, we feel the need of more direction, and for this we turn to the epistle.

Today’s exhortation from Paul to the Colossians constitutes one of the finest, most stirring calls to living a heavenly existence on earth, “Be intent on things above… put on the new person… formed anew in the image of the Creator.” Paul is not afraid to translate these magnificent statements into practical language: put to death fornication, uncleanness, evil desires, put aside anger, quick temper, malice, insults, foul language. stop lying to one another. The centre point where all discussion stops always turns out to be unity, trust and charity. Here he states our new life in Christ where “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, foreigners, Scythian, slave or free person.” Paul’s final directive here is engraven on many banners and should be cut into the flesh of our heart, “Christ is everything in all of you.”

First Reading: Col 3:1-11

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Gospel: Luke 6:20-26

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.