Lectio Divina: 2022-02-11

Some of the group’s thoughts on Luke 6:17, 20-26

How happy are you who are poor. Alas for you who are rich.

One

I am sure, like others, I have read this Gospel passage 100s of times but it obviously doesn’t mean what it appears to mean. “How happy are you who are poor. Alas for you who are rich.” I believe that Jesus means those of us who have an easy life, with all we could possibly want and have no regard for others, who don’t take care of those less well off than ourselves and suffer no hardships in this life either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, at the cost of others or without helping others who do suffer all these things, are the people Jesus is talking about and to. Where we end up very much depends on what we do here. We will reap what we sow.

Take care everyone.
God bless

Two

Verse 23 = Rejoice in that day and leap for joy. When I read this I was instantly aware that this sentence’s message was so positive and reassuring. It reflects so closely my favourite verse in the Bible. Psalm 118 v 24 = This is the day the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it. This is the very first thing I say every morning when I wake up. I gain great comfort and hope from it.

Three

‘Blessed…’
Jesus shows us how to turn negatives (poverty, hunger, hatred) into opportunities to show the special love that God has for those who suffer or feel left behind. This gospel message of love is for all people and a call to show love in action. There are many kinds of poverty, hunger and hatred in today’s world.

What can I do to share God’s love with those who really need it? Help me Lord to recognise the needs of people l meet and help me to find practical ways to help those who need it.

Four

I wonder how it would be if we turned on the TV, tuned into the news and there is Jesus standing in front of the crowds speaking these words. How would people respond? What would the media be saying?

He is turning the values of the world in general upside down. We can’t escape the fact that many in our society are hungry, many are poor and many are weeping as they worry about the future – how will they manage. Choices between eating and keeping warm. I want to weep with them and for them.

We see the division in the world between the rich and the poor.

Jesus sends a warning to those who at present are full, who are rich and who are laughing. “Woe to you.”

This is not how the kingdom of God works!

As a Christian how do I respond? V26 jumped off the page “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”

It we are truly following Jesus there will be times when we aren’t popular, we will irritate and annoy and even be hated, but one day we will be rewarded. We have to make a stand to speak out against the injustices of this world.

Love and blessings.

Five

“A great crowd of people from all parts…”

While the “happy commandments” in this passage are all full of meaning, today I am held by the fascination of Jesus’ being heard by all that crowd in the open air. The mind boggles. Did Jesus have such a powerful voice? Was this some miracle? Was the Holy Spirit carrying the words to each heart? Who knows? Probably the word passed through the crowd… Anyway, the Word has now reached everyone who has had access to it whether by hearing or reading.

I ponder on the word we pass around ourselves. It seems that if we are acting in the Divine Will, it will find its place; the seed will land where it is meant to do. The word may be said quietly to one person who repeats it to another (or not); it may be in an email sent in answer to a cry for help; the word may spring almost involuntarily to and from our lips so we wonder how it came there. The idea coming to me is that in God’s will a true word will always hit the right spot and bear fruit though we may know nothing about it. We do not need to be anxious about getting it right as long as our will is surrendered. (“My word that goes forth from my mouth will not return to me empty” Is.55)

Six

“He stood on a level place.”

When I imagine myself in this place with Jesus, the disciples and the crowd I see us all standing on a level surface. The word ‘level’ is significant because Jesus is saying to me, we are all equal. No man is better than another because of his circumstances. When we have too much we may no longer feel the need for God and our attachment is to what we have. We may feel superior to others because of our status in the community or we feel uncomfortable with those who are different and so reject them.

Jesus is inviting us to look beyond the surface of our lives and look inward at our attitudes.

Our brokenness is not a reflection of who we are, we are children of God and are loved equally. There is no them and us, what affects one affects the whole.

Its not easy to give up our old outworn attitudes that keep us separated from Him and each other. But with His help we can change and move forward together into His kingdom.

Seven

I was struck today with the words “looking at his disciples”. I think he was trying to encourage them to know that they had made the best decision they could have ever made by leaving everything and following him.

He said you are blessed because you are spiritually poor, in other words humble before God, open and dependent on Him.

They, and us, are blessed because they hungered after righteousness. He said to them, you may weep but you will also laugh.

You are blessed if people reject, hate, insult you because of Jesus, great will your reward be in Heaven and because you are walking the path of righteousness and spreading love and Satan hates it.

But woe to you if everyone likes you, maybe you are lukewarm and being a people pleaser rather than God pleasers.

Woe if you only live for today and for comfort or if you think you have no need of God because you are doing ok without him, an attitude of self reliance.

These warnings are not to condemn but a reminder to stay humble, stay God focused and surrendered to His incredible love.

God bless you all

Eight

Dear friends,

Today I was grabbed by these words:

‘ large gathering of disciples’…’ great crowd of people from all parts of Judea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon who have come to hear Him and to be cured of their diseases.’

This part of the Mount Sermon, is at the same time a source of joy (4 blessings ) and quite confronting and challenging (4 woes).
How is possible to call ‘blessed, happy or fortunate’ to those who are poor, hungry, weeping and hated?

At the time of Jesus any of these life situations were understood as symptoms of their own sinfulness or a consequence of the behaviour of their ancestors. While having good health, being well-fed, having a good reputation, having riches and power was the desirable thing.

It sounds to me quite similar to the secularized world we live in. Who wants to suffer? How many people nowadays strive to have wealth, fame and power?

I don’t think God wants us to be miserable and to suffer, rather he wants us to be happy doing the Will of the Father, not following the insubstantial dictates of worldly desires, fashions and riches.

In the scene of today’s passage there are mixed: the disciples, including the Apostles, the local people coming from the Jewish world; and many people coming from the so called Gentile cities. Basically, everybody is called by the Spirit to come to HEAR Jesus, and to BE CURED of their diseases; whatever those may be, physical, of those of the soul.

Jesus’ message to all of them, to us, to all mankind, is one of liberation from the slavery of possessions, ego, privileges, power… all that separates us from God. All we need to do is put first, before everything, God.

Here Jesus says ‘Your reward’, if we do what He asks of us, ‘ will be great in heaven’, He doesn’t say here in this world. There is hope for all of us, not in the things that enslave us, but in the words of God, that cure us from our our deafness, from our imperfections and sins.

Let us allow these words, the Beatitudes, to be felt deeply in our hearts, allowing them to change our Attitudes towards everything in our life. Let us put God first, and all the rest will fit in.

In Jesus’ Name I pray.

A Beatitudes Prayer by Jared Dees

Dear Lord,
Make me poor in spirit, so I can receive the kingdom of heaven.
When I mourn, help me find comfort.
Make me meek, so that I may inherit the land.
Help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness, so I may be satisfied.
Make me merciful, so I may obtain your mercy.
Make me pure of heart, so I may see you.
Help me to make peace, so I may be called your child.
When I am persecuted for righteousness’ sake, show me your kingdom.
Amen.