hs3rd

my miscellany

Epiphany 6, 2022 — 13 Feb 22

Epiphany 6, 2022

Bruegel, Jan, 1568-1625. Sermon on the Mount, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55346 [retrieved February 13, 2022]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sermon_on_the_Mount_by_Jan_Brueghel_the_Elder,_Getty_Center.jpg.

RCL Year C, Epiphany 6
Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalm 1, I Corinthians 15:12-20, Saint Luke 6:17-26

Human beings can easily forget or be distracted. That was as true in Jesus’s day as it is now. And the Sermon on the Plain, as it is called in Saint Luke’s Gospel, and the Sermon on the Mount, as it is called in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, addresses fundamentally important things which we should never forget and from which we should never be distracted. Whenever we read it or hear it proclaimed we are in a refresher course about the Christian Life and how to live it. We are reminded of the fundamentally important things about living as Jesus would have us live.

We have today the first half of the Sermon on the Plain that enumerates the blessings and the woes. Most human beings, given their druthers, would rather enjoy the woes rather than the blessings.

Here go the blessings: being poor, being hungry, mourning, being hated, and, finally, being excluded, reviled, and defamed. “Rejoice in that day,” Jesus declares, “and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.”[1] These are blessings in the here and now, Jesus says, because they will be reversed in eternity. Eternity is what really matters.

Their opposites are woes: being rich, being full, laughing, and being spoken well of. They are the woes that befell the false prophets. They will be reversed in eternity, and eternity is what really matters.

Christians, I think, are well-advised to be at least a little suspicious of riches and comforts that do not last long. Jesus had not riches and comforts, and now he reigns in heaven. The poor, who find themselves despised by the rich, may do likewise. They may find that God reverses their poverty to supply them with riches beyond money and comforts. We are well-advised to remember this, because Jesus may be right. In the length and breadth of my experience, I cannot find a single thing where he has been shown to be wrong.

So, what are we to do? By any standards in the world, we are rich. How are we to live? I have two recommendations for you. Remember that our circumstances could very easily be reversed. Our riches could become poverty over night. Our lives can be changed for the worse in the twinkling of an eye. Remember this. Never forget it. And be thankful.

The second recommendation I have is that you give to God your reasonable share which, Biblically, is the tithe or ten percent. At the very least, be quite intentional that you are working to that end. I will testify to you before God that the money I have given away, I have never missed. God’s love and God’s mercy never run out. We can never exhaust them. The more we give, the more we possess to give. I think that is God’s way. Remember the widow and how she gave her two small coins, all she had.[2] Those two small coins were the smart money. She was really hedging her bets. May none of us wait for eternity to find out just how true this is.


[1] Saint Luke 6:23.

[2] Saint Luke 21:1-4.

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