6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Luke 6 17-26)
Abraham Lincoln once said “God must love the poor. Why else would he have made so many of them”. When Mahatma Gandhi was preparing himself for his mission and leadership, a missionary gave him a book that contained the four Gospels. That was his first exposure to Christianity. He read the Gospels with great interest, and was convinced that the principles taught by Jesus could resolve all of the political, social and economic problems of his country. But when he traveled through the Christian countries, he was disappointed to see that nobody lived these wonderful gospel teachings in their lives. For this reason, Gandhi never converted to Christianity. But those who know Gandhi well, certainly, will call him a Christian. Because Gandhi practiced the teachings of Jesus, especially the beatitudes. In the course of the independent movement, this ordinary, half naked, skinny man got the power and inspiration from prayer and fasting. The sun never set on the British Empire. They were powerful and mighty like Galayate. But Gandhi knew that in order to fight against them he needed the power and support of the Almighty. Jeremiah said, “Blessed are those who place their trust in the Lord.”
Today, if somebody ask this congregation to raise our hands who would love to be poor, starving, weeping and hated by everybody, I am quiet sure, that no hands would go up including me. But if somebody on the other hand asks to raise our hands who would love to be rich, well fed, laughing and well spoken of in the community, then all of us raise our hands including me. But in today’s gospel Jesus declares a blessing on those who are poor, hungry, weeping and hated. To make sure we get the point, he goes on and explicitly pronounces a woe on those who are rich, well fed, laughing and well spoken of. What is going on here? Does Jesus want us to understand that material poverty in itself is a sign of divine approval and material prosperity a sign of divine disapproval? Certainly, not!
According to Jesus it is the poor who will inherit the Kingdom of God. Normally in our world, it is the children of the already rich who receive the large inheritances. The poor seldom are mentioned in wills or receive estates. However, Christ proclaims that it is the poor who receive the inheritance of the Kingdom–all the Kingdom of God becomes theirs.
The point of the text is not that Jesus loves to hate rich people. For Luke, “the poor” are folks who depend upon God and who know that they do not have the power or wealth to cause change or to provide for life on their own. Those who are poor in this way trust in the power of the Lord and seek his power in their lives. Without the Lord, they know they have no hope and no power in this world. In such a heart, the Kingdom comes with power and hope. Recognizing and admitting our poverty is the prerequisite for entering the Kingdom of God. Usually we do not like let others know that we are poor and week and we are in need of some help. Because of our pride, we like to hide the awareness of our own insufficiency from ourselves and from others. To enter the Kingdom, we must come out of hiding, and admit before God and others who we are.
Have you ever thought about being an absolutely poor person? When you are in absolutely miserable poverty, you need to get out of your pride and you need to ask others help for meeting your needs. When you do that you are admitting that you are a resource less person. When you are really poor you can not turn to your material successes and assets for your security.
Entering the Kingdom bring forth humility. It is to recognize that I can merit nothing by my own ways. I come with my hands empty and open to receive what God has to give. This is not self-humiliation, the damaging of my worth and dignity. Rather, it is true self-awareness, the recognition that I am totally dependent on the One who created me and who redeemed me. In this humility, I can then receive the affirmation of my worth, dignity and significance as a citizen in Christ of His Kingdom.
God is our Source. All our expectations come from God. Do not look at human hands and human power. Our expectation does not come from human hands human power. All our expectations come from our all mighty God. God is our source and all others are resources. Provision and promotion come from God. Keep your eyes on God acknowledges dependence. And it is possible to place our trust in God even if we are wealthy.