Gospel Reading: Lk 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.”
BLESSED ARE YOU… WOE TO YOU…
The Sermon on the Plain begins with a prophetic call – an invitation and warning to those listening to Jesus. The first part declares God’s grace of blessing to those who identify with him. In contrast, unique to Luke’s gospel, the woes show God’s displeasure on those who oppose the blessing Jesus gives and who persecute his disciples as a result.
God commits himself to his disciples in the present age and will bless them richly in the future. The four descriptions of the righteous – the poor, those who hunger now, those who weep now, and those hated because of the Son of Man – should not be seen as separate groups but as elements of one portrait describing those for whom God has compassion. The blessings of God’s promised rule belong to such as these. The four woes – to the rich, those well fed now, those who laugh now, and those highly regarded – match and contrast with the four blessings, revealing Jesus’ displeasure with people who are uncaring about those around them and who refuse to be sensitive to God. As with the blessings, the four descriptions are not distinct groups but four related descriptions of one kind of person. The prophetic woes are utterances of pity and pain for those who will face misfortune and judgment.
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