VI Epiphany

February 17, 2019

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

I do not know about you, but there is one big question that came to my mind as I read the Beatitudes this week – “How?”  How are people going to be blessed in these things? 

People who are poor and hungry and weeping rarely feel blessed.  People who hated and reviled definitely do not feel blessed.  At least when I feel these things, I do not feel blessed! 

So “How”?  How are people who experience poverty and hunger and weeping and hate are -- how are they to feel blessed?  I think that I may have found the answer.  Let me tell you.

To get at the answer, I want to look at what may seem at first to be an unrelated story in the gospels -- The parable of the Good Samaritan.  This is also found in the Gospel according to St. Luke.  Let me read it for us:

“But (the lawyer)…said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’  Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  

Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.   But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  

And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'  

Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’  He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’   And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Did you see what Jesus did to the question posed to Him by the lawyer?  He turned it around.  The question that was posed to Jesus was, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus’ answer -- after telling the lawyer the parable of the Good Samaritan—was “Who became neighbor to the man on the side of the road?”  In other words, Jesus was saying to the man – it is not the job of others to become your neighbor, but it is your job to become neighbor to others.

What does this have to do with my initial question – How are people who experience poverty and hunger and weeping and hate -- how are they to feel blessed?  

The answer to the question of how is us!  Just like the question of “who is my neighbor” is answered by “who will you become neighbor to”, the question of how people are to be blessed is us!  We are to become the blessing!

We are to serve the poor and hungry.  We are to comfort the weeping.  We are to love the hated and reviled.  We are the blessing. 

It is the same answer that Jesus gives to the question -- `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?   And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?   And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'

You remember the answer – “…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

And what happens to us if we do not live up to the calling to be a blessing to others?  Jesus gets at the answer through the series of woes that He adds at the end:

"But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.   Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, we are called to be a blessing.  We are called to be the hands, the arms, the feet, the eyes – truly to become the Body of Christ -- Are we up to the challenge?  AMEN.