Dear Followers of Jesus,
In Luke 6: 17, 20-26 we pray with Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. Luke’s desire for the poor to know the promises of Jesus is clear in his interpretation. In the opening sentence we learn so much about how Jesus is portrayed in this gospel. I think the opening sentence is really all we need to know.
The opening sentence of today’s gospel is, “Jesus came down with the twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all of Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.”
So, Jesus gathers the twelve on level ground. This is quite the contrast to Matthew’s version of the Beatitudes where Jesus is on a hillside speaking to a vast crowd. In this text, Luke desires that Jesus comes to the people with his presence and message. Jesus desires to see people on an equal footing where there is no power or prestige. The setting for the message that Jesus gives begins on level ground where people can understand that Jesus is also there for them. There is no false power, no inequality, no submissive response since Jesus and his words are authentic and true. The ground is equal love. The ground is stable, real, and genuine. The words of the Divine are offered on solid ground for each hearer. Jesus also places his twelve among others, such as the large number of people from various nations. The words of Jesus have equal weight for every nation and people. His message becomes a message for the world.
The words of Jesus have equal weight for all people. Jesus then lifts the poor to an equal ground with other people. “Blessed are you for the Kingdom of God is yours.” This simple sentence is the essence of Luke’s gospel. Luke desires to lift every person brought down by poverty, prejudice, insecurity, ill-health, misfortune, and emotional disease to the promise of an eternal heaven. The Kingdom that is usually seen above people or in the next life is now available to the least, to outcasts and sinners, and to the poor of every nation and tribe. The rich with money, prestige, advantage, education, or anything that is plentiful, will also have to know that they stand on the same ground as people who need many earthly things to survive. On level ground we see the face of Jesus and look into the eyes of our neighbors with love and fidelity.
There is an equality in the Kingdom. I have come to know this in my own life and ministry. In fact, the greatest teachers in my priesthood have been folks who know they need something greater than themselves. My teachers have been people who understand how to surrender to God, to know God from the depths of the human heart since they have been so bruised in life. I have spent years finding my grounding on the earth among people who teach me how to stand in the gifts God gives me and every person in every nation and time. The surefootedness of this gospel setting is the place where we all can find new life in the Kingdom of Heaven revealed directly here on earth in the person of Jesus Christ.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor