What About Our Riches?
July 29, 2016
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 25, 2020
February 16, 2019
When we first read today’s Gospel from
Luke, our initial response may be, “Oh, I’m
familiar with that scripture passage, sort
of…?” For many of us, we recognize the
Beatitudes referenced in Luke’s Gospel, but
they aren’t quite worded the way we may
initially recall them. That’s because today’s
gospel passage has a parallel gospel found in Matthew.
Today's gospel reading is the beginning of what is often
called the Sermon on the Plain. We find a parallel to this
passage in Matthew 5:1-7,11 that is often called the
Sermon on the Mount. As these titles suggest, there are
differences and similarities between these gospel
When spoken from the mountaintop in Matthew's Gospel,
we can envision that Jesus is speaking with the authority
and voice of God. The mountaintop is a symbol of
closeness to God. In contrast, as Luke introduces the
location of Jesus' teaching, Jesus teaches on level ground,
alongside the disciples and the crowd. Luke presents
Jesus' authority in a different light. He is God among us.
Another distinction found in Luke's version is the audience.
Luke's Sermon on the Plain is addressed to Jesus' disciples,
although in the presence of the crowd. Matthew's Sermon
on the Mount is addressed to the crowd. In keeping with
this difference, the Beatitudes in Luke's Gospel sound
more personal than those in Matthew's Gospel. Luke uses
the word “you” whereas Matthew uses “they” or “those.”
There is also a difference in number: Matthew describes
eight beatitudes while Luke presents just four, each of
which has a parallel warning.
As we listen to this Gospel, the Beatitudes impact our
sensibilities. Those who are poor, hungry, weeping, or
persecuted are called blessed or happy. In the list of
“woes,” those whom we might ordinarily describe as
blessed by God are warned about their peril. Riches,
possessions, laughter, reputation . . . these are not things
that we can depend upon as sources of eternal happiness.
They not only fail to deliver on their promise, but our
misplaced trust in them will lead to our demise. The
ultimate peril is in misidentifying the source of our eternal
The Beatitudes are often described as a framework for
Christian living. Our vocation as Christians is not to be first
in this world, but rather to be first in the eyes of God. We
are challenged to examine our present situation in the
context of our ultimate horizon, the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who love the Lord!
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