“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.’” vss. 20-21b
As Luke recounts Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain we hear echoes of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, with one major difference. In Matthew Jesus’ words are directed to souls, e.g. blessed are the poor in spirit, while in Luke they are aimed at stomachs, e.g. blessed are you who are poor and hungry now. Luke wants us to know that Jesus had compassion for those who were needy and hurting, and that any rich or wealthy folks in the crowd could expect to be challenged. It isn’t that Jesus avoided the rich. Indeed he seems to have regularly dined at their tables and responded to their requests for healing. But he didn’t mince words when talking about their wealth. ”Woe to you who are rich,” was a regular refrain in his teaching and preaching, and most of us don’t like to hear that. Instead we embrace what is called the “prosperity gospel” and have come to believe that riches are God’s blessing for the faithful. Our artful preachers have learned to ease our consciences by tweaking Jesus’ words on wealth and taking away their sting. Admittedly it is hard to see poverty and hunger as blessings–that isn’t how we want to live. But Jesus’ words are meant to be wrestled with and not ignored. He does have a point–our task is to figure out what it is!
Thought for the Day: What is Jesus’ point?