Gospel Reflection

Don’t we all sometimes wonder when we see someone behave a certain way, “What, don’t they know that’s not
right?” Or, “Why didn’t they know better?” We witness so
many actions and decisions that are quite contrary to what
we expect of people, or that go against what we know to be
right and wrong.
The catechism tells us, “Every institution is inspired, at
least implicitly, by a vision of man and his destiny, from
which it derives the point of reference for its judgment, its
hierarchy of values, its line of conduct” (2244). There are
rules for living properly in the world. We have federal laws
and state regulations. But these are external rules. These
rules do not form us. They can show some things, but it is
from God that we properly learn how to act in the world.
God’s instructions show us how we can be our best selves.
How does God guide us? Listen to the words of Jesus in
the Gospel reading from Luke today. This is a great place
to start.
The beatitudes are the heart of Jesus’ preaching. They tell
us to love our enemies and love our neighbor. At the core of
the sermon is Jesus’ teaching on love. This love is characterized by forgiveness and generosity. These are characteristic of the Christian life. They offer us hope in the midst of
trials and tests. And they show us what is already ours by
virtue of our salvation through Christ. They help us to see
the fullness of our lives as God designs it. According to the
catechism, “The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for
happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it
in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who
alone can fulfill it” (1718).
Just as there are consequences to disobeying rules and laws
in our society, so, too, there are negative repercussions from
straying from God’s vision of human happiness. Unlike
Matthew’s Gospel, Luke gives four “woes” after his description of the beatitudes. These woes are reminiscent of
the cries of impending distress used by the Old Testament
prophets. Luke depicts Jesus as fulfilling the same prophetic
role to warn that disaster comes upon those whose worldly
comfort and prosperity has turned them away from God and
fidelity to the demands of his covenant. The woes remind us
that satisfaction in worldly wealth and prestige can give us a
false sense of security and lead us to overlook our radical
dependence on God’s mercy.
Today, let us heed God’s warnings about the dangers of a
life lived apart from his grace, and follow the path of blessing and human flourishing he has chartered for us in the
beatitudes.