Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C: Luke 6:17-26: A New Way to See the World

You can see all the lectionary readings for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Luke.

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is with a large crowd; people from all over have come to hear him teach and to be healed. Jesus heals them and begins to preach.

This is one of those things I don’t want to paraphrase:

“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[a 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.

Luke 6:20-26 (NRSV)

These are the Beatitudes. Most of us have heard them before–perhaps so often, in fact, that they have become clichéd. But consider them in the context of when Jesus first speaks them–turning expectations on their head. The poor have the kingdom? The hungry will be filled? Those who weep will laugh? It’s not how the world sees things; it’s not how we see things day-to-day, but it’s how Jesus calls us to see things and how he calls us to seek justice in the world.

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C: Luke 1:39-45, (46-55): Hope and Trust

You can see all the lectionary readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Luke.

Mary travels to another town to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth feels her unborn baby leap up inside her at Mary’s voice and she is filled with the Holy Spirit.

She proclaims to Mary that she is blessed more than any other woman and that God has blessed her baby. She tells Mary that her baby jumped for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. She says, “Great blessings are yours because you believed what the Lord said to you! You believed this would happen.”

This is Mary’s response–her Magnificat (song of praise.

“I praise the Lord with all my heart.
    I am very happy because God is my Savior.
I am not important,
    but he has shown his care for me, his lowly servant.
From now until the end of time,
    people will remember how much God blessed me.
Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me.
    His name is very holy.
He always gives mercy
    to those who worship him.
He reached out his arm and showed his power.
    He scattered those who are proud and think great things about themselves.
He brought down rulers from their thrones
    and raised up the humble people.
He filled the hungry with good things,
    but he sent the rich away with nothing.
God has helped Israel—the people he chose to serve him.
    He did not forget his promise to give us his mercy.
He has done what he promised to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and his children forever.”

Luke 1:46-55 (Easy-to-read version)

Mary has obviously come to terms with the big news the angel Gabriel brought her. She is young and inexperienced; she has every reason to be terrified, but she is full of hope and trust that God knows what he is doing. She knows she is blessed and she celebrates the blessing and the hope that comes with it.

Proper 22, Year B: Mark 10:2-16: Love Rules

You can see all the lectionary readings for Proper 22, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Mark.

Again Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with weird questions. They ask him about divorce and he asks them what Moses commanded. They answer that Moses allowed divorce. Jesus says that Moses made that command because they didn’t accept God’s teaching.

Later his disciples ask Jesus about divorce and he tells them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman has sinned against his wife. He is guilty of adultery. And the woman who divorces her husband and marries another man is also guilty of adultery.” What’s really interesting here is that he includes the idea of a woman divorcing her husband. That may not read like much in today’s world and in a more open-minded church, but that was significant for the time–no teacher at that time would bother with a view for women in that way.

People are bringing children to Jesus so that he could bless them, but his disciples are trying to prevent it. Again, they are thinking of their current social beliefs–children were of even less importance than women. Jesus told them to let the children come to him and he said that God’s kingdom belongs tho people who are like little children. He opened his arms to hold the children, laid hands on them, and blessed them.

Time and time again, the people of his time (and ours) fail to see his radical love for what it is. It’s not constrained by the rules of their kingdom but it is open with the rules of God’s kingdom, sometimes hard to understand, but always on the side of love and inclusion.

All Saints’ Day, Year A: Matthew 5:1-12: Blessings

The Sermon On The Mount (The Beatitudes), IsraelYou can see all the lectionary readings for the All Saints’ Day, Year A by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Matthew.

This section of scripture is usually called the “Beatitudes,” which means “statements of blessing” (probably loosely translated). Beatitudes were a sort of literary form in Judaism–proclamation of what behavior drew blessings. Another example is in Psalm 1: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked”, etc. 

Jesus goes up and sits on a hill and speaks to the people. I’m just going to share here the blessings here straight from the Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible:

Great blessings belong to those who know they are spiritually in need.
    God’s kingdom belongs to them.
Great blessings belong to those who are sad now.
    God will comfort them.
Great blessings belong to those who are humble.
    They will be given the land God promised.
Great blessings belong to those who want to do right more than anything else.
    God will fully satisfy them.
Great blessings belong to those who show mercy to others.
    Mercy will be given to them.
Great blessings belong to those whose thoughts are pure.
    They will be with God.
Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace.
    God will call them his sons and daughters.
Great blessings belong to those who suffer persecution for doing what is right.
    God’s kingdom belongs to them.
Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace.
    God will call them his sons and daughters.
Great blessings belong to those who suffer persecution for doing what is right.
    God’s kingdom belongs to them.

I think it’s worthwhile to meditate on each of these in turn for some time. So many of us who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord fail to work to bring peace or be humble. So many of us want many other things besides doing right. So many of us do not strive to show mercy or to make sure our nation as a whole is merciful rather than vengeful. I like to read these in this version for a little way of seeing them in a new light. God will bless us if our hearts are right–maybe because right hearts can make the world a better place.