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Sixth Sunday – Year C – Ordinary Time
Readings: Jer 17:5-8; I Cor 15:12, 16-20; Lk 6:17, 20-26.
1/ First Reading: RSV Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
2/ Second Reading: RSV 1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 6:17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. “Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
I. THEME: Let put our faith completely I God.
Most people in all times believe, “if one lives kindly, he shall be rewarded with good things; if he sows wind, he shall get back storm.” Behind this belief is the faith in a god: The Most High One or “God;” because there must be the powerful One to protect the good and to punish the bad. At first, this belief is confined only in this present world; but when people noticed that some good people lived a good life and still didn’t receive good things, and the evil one lived a bad life and still received the good things; this belief extends to the next world. If God is just, He must reward the good and punish the evil in the next life.
Today readings advice people to put their faith completely in God so that they were blessed by God both in this life and the next life. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah compared the sufferings of those who believe in the human power with the happiness of those who put their hope in God. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Corinthians to believe firmly in Christ’s resurrection and in their resurrection with Him. This is the reason that motivates people to practice what Christ teaches them. In the Gospel, Luke reported what Jesus taught about God’s kingdom in the plain. He blesses those who are poor, lack of food and drink, wailed or be treated unjustly in God’s name. In opposition, He warned sufferings for those who now are rich, full of good things, laughed and be praised by people.
1/ Reading I: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.”
1.1/ Those who believe in human power: Jeremiah’s purpose in this passage is to emphasize the contrast between the faith in God’s power and the trust in human power. The first thing we need to note is that in order to be woeful, there must be all of three listed elements which are: believe in human power, take one’s muscles to be one’s strength, and one’s heart is far away from God. If one believes in his parents, is confident in his given talent and believes in God, that person shall not be damned. Jeremiah wants to stress on the faith completely in God than the trust one has in his talent or the trust on the powerful ones no matter how mighty they are. It is easy to understand that if a person has no faith in God, he is easy to fall into the abyss of tiresomeness and despair or when he is confronted with sickness, treachery or death because he has no one to rely on or nothing to hope for.
1.2/ Those who believe in God’s power: The history of the Old Testament offers many lessons to illustrate many good things happened to forefathers, leaders, kings and prophets when they keep carefully what God teaches them. We can say that today Jeremiah’s oracle is the conclusion of what God wants to print in people’s mind and heart: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
If a person puts completely his trust in God, He will bless, protect and grant him all good things. The history of the Old Testament also demonstrated that when a person or a nation didn’t believe in God and believes only in his own or the other nation’s wisdom and strength, he or that nation must receive countless sufferings, shame and exile.
2/ Reading II: The belief in the resurrection helps people to practice what God teaches them.
The Jewish tradition from the beginning to about 200 BC doesn’t have a clear explanation of the resurrection even though there exist many passages that talk about the restful place of the dead and those who become friends with God. A clear belief in the resurrection only begins in the Book of Daniel and the two Books of Maccabees.
2.1/ The basic belief is the belief in the resurrection: There are many reasons lead to Paul’s teaching on the resurrection:
(1) The belief of the Hellenistic philosophers: Plato and Aristotle believe in the eternity of human soul because it isn’t made by material things so it shall not be destroyed. They also believe that human body is a prison that confines the soul. In order that the soul be truly free, a person must find a way to liberate his soul from his body. This is one of many reasons which people laughed at Paul at Areopagus, Athens when he talked about the resurrection of the human body. Corinth is also a city of Greeks, there certain be people who opposed Paul his teaching about the resurrection of the human body.
(2) The experience of the witnesses: St. Paul had a clear experience about Jesus’ resurrection on his way to Damascus to seize Christians. Before that event, he thought a person named Jesus who was condemned by the Sandherin and killed, shall be forgotten as many people in the past who died before him; but not at all, He is still alive and showed His power to Paul: I am the one who you are persecuting. Wow to you if you keep kicking against the goads! (Act 26:14). It is this meeting that changed completely Paul’s life, from the unbelief to the belief of the resurrection, from the persecution to the eagerness to preach about Christ for all people, especially the Gentiles. If a person who was dead and now still lives, all what that person spoke are true; especially what He revealed about God’s plan for people and the eternal life.
(3) The belief of majority of people: Many people in the world, though don’t believe in God, but believe in the natural law, “do good and avoid evil.” But they notice that there are many who do evil but are still prosperous in this life. So, they think those people must be punished in the next life, or at least, must be started low at their new cycle of life
(4) The purpose of Jesus’ Incarnation is to forgive people’s sins and to help them to achieve salvation. If there is no resurrection and dead is the end, why God let His Son, Jesus, to incarnate and to die for no purpose?
2.2/ The belief in the resurrection teaches us how to live our lives: There are two beliefs and two ways of life corresponding with these two beliefs:
(1) Those who don’t believe in the resurrection: They will reduce all their activities in enjoying the most what they can find in this world, even they must maltreat others. They are not worry about the last judgment because to them, death is the end. They don’t waste their time to learn about the truths in Scripture or to practice what God teaches.
(2) Those who believe in the resurrection: They live this life with their eyes toward the next life. They live this life temporally so that they shall enjoy the eternal life with Christ. St. Paul didn’t approve the solution that said, “the belief in Christ shall help Christians only in this life” as he said: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.” In other words, if we don’t believe in the resurrection, we should enjoy everything in this life as those who don’t believe in God. The reason is that we will lose both this life and the life to come.
3/ Gospel: Jesus preached the Sermon of the Mount in the plain.
3.1/ The differences between Luke’s and Matthew’s Sermon of the Mount: There are at least three differences between them:
(1) In Matthew (5:1-12), Jesus taught only His disciples on the mountain; in Luke, the Sermon of the Mount was taught at the plain and extended up to all people, “from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon.”
(2) Matthew reported clearly 8 Beatitudes while Luke divided in to four “blesses” and four “woes.”
(3) Matthew used the third person while Luke used the second person.
3.2/ Four blesses: Jesus lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke used the verb in present time in this sentence as he wants to say that when people lives poorly, they begin to possess the kingdom of God. In the real life, when people live in poverty, it is easy for them to rely on God than when they become rich. The rich used to rely on his richness than God.
In the next sentences, Luke used the first clause at present and the second clause at future: “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.” He wants to say that what will happen in the future will completely reverse what is happening now.
In the next sentence, Luke used the verb of the first clause at conditional and all the verbs of the second clause at present, “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke wanted to say that if those things happen, the believers should rejoice, since God will reward deservedly what they suffered in this life.
3.3/ Four woes: May be the story in Luke, “Lazarus and the rich man” (Lk 16:20-31) will help us to understand the four woes in today passage. In the first woe, Luke used the verb of the first clause at present and the second clause at perfect, “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.” When people live in richness of this life, they already have consolation.
In the next sentence, the using of the verb is also similar with the above structure, “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” The forefather Abraham also said the similar with the rich man, “Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us”(Lk 16:25-26).
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should not put our faith in ourselves or in anyone except in God. He is the only One who loves and has the power to bestow on us the eternal life.
– The belief in the resurrection is the difference between those who believe in God and those who don’t believe in Him.
– Our faith is needed to be purified and tested by sufferings; but these tests are only temporal. If there are no tests, we shall have no opportunities to demonstrate our faith in God.