6 Sunday of the Year C

Jer 17:5-8; 1Cor 15:12, 16-20; Lk 6:17, 20-26

 In ancient times, the Romans considered getting possession of material goods as a way to happiness. Poverty in the Roman colony at the time of Jesus was regarded as a disgrace, even a punishment for sin committed.

Through his teaching and his way of life, Jesus showed his disciples there is another way to attain happiness. First by his own life, Jesus chose to live a poor man’s life. He was born poor. He lived and died in poverty voluntarily. Secondly, through his way of teaching, he preached the Beatitudes.

 Saint Mathew recorded the eight Beatitudes known to be Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount because he went up on the mountainside to teach (Mt 5:1). In today’s Gospel of Saint Luke, Jesus taught them the four Beatitudes and four woes, i.e., four ways to happiness and four ways to unhappiness known to be his ‘Sermon on the Plain’, because he taught on the way down the mountain (Lk 6:17). The first Beatitude in Saint Mathew’s Gospel is similar to the first one in Saint Luke’s. One thing different is in Saint Mathew’s Gospel, the spirit of poverty is emphasized. Accordingly, if rich people have acquired their wealth honestly, do not put their hearts into material possessions, and are willing to help others in need, then they too are blessed. Job, a rich figure in the Old Testament, was blessed by God (Jb 42:12). Some disciples of Jesus are rich and influential such as Zacheus (Lk 9:2, 9-10), Nicodemus (Jn 8:50-51; Jn 19:39-40), Joseph of Arimathea (Mt 27:57; Mk 15:43; Lk 23:50-53; Jn 19:38). One of Saint Paul’s companion and co-worker is Saint Luke, who is a physician (Col 4:14).

In Saint’s Luke Gospel, he tells us about poverty in fact. Luke records Jesus cares about the poor by telling his disciples to invite beggars, the handicapped, the lame, and the blind to their reception (Lk 14:13, 21), share food with the hungry (Lk 16:19-26) and belongings with the poor (Lk 19:8). In Saint Mark’s gospel, we have a situation when the young, rich man, who wanted to share in everlasting life. Looking at him with love, Jesus told him to sell what he had and give to the poor (Mk 10:21). Jesus also praised the poor widow who contributed to the treasury more than all the others, even though she only put in two small copper coins she had to live on (Mk 12:43).

 Saint Luke’s Gospel was written for poor gentile converts to Christianity. Thus, Luke placed Jesus on a plain (Lk 6:17), the same level with poor converts, persecuted and suffered for their conversion. Jesus blessed those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated insulted, denounced and ostracized.  He told his audience those who are blessed by God, are not those who are favored by the world. The suffering and agony of those unfortunate in this life are not meant that God has abandoned them. Hunger and fullness in Lucan gospel is understood in the eschatological sense as the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have announced (Is 49:10; Jer 31:12, 25; Ez 34:29; 36:29). Weeping to be blessed is weeping for one’s sins as the penitent woman wept for her sins (Lk 7:38) and Peter wept for his sin of denial of Jesus (Mt 26:75). Weeping can also means mourning for the death of a loved one as Mary wept over the death of her brother Lazarus (Jn 11:33); as the Jews in the house with Mary also wept (v. 33); as Jesus also wept over the death of Lazarus (v. 35). When seeing the chief of the synagogue and his wife weep over the death of their only daughter, Peter, John and James also wept (Lk 8:52), making Jesus feel pity, he took her hand calling her to rise (Lk 8:54).

 Jesus also wept over the city of Jerusalem since it did not recognize the peace that would be brought to its citizens (Lk 19:41-42). Jesus’ weeping shows he also had feeling of a person with a heart to know how to touch and to be touched at the suffering of Marta and Mary and his lamentation for Jerusalem. Whether Jesus laughed, the Gospel did not tell. When Jesus was put to death, Mary Magdala went to the tomb to weep (Jn 20:11-15) and his followers grieved and wept (Mk 16:10).

 Parallel and contrary to the four beatitudes are four woes. The woes are the warnings to those who are rich (Lk 6:24), those who are seeking only earthly possessions, keeping them and relying on them. The reason for a rich man to be condemned is that he only piles up riches for himself (Lk 12:21), does not put his trust in God (Lk 12:22:32), does not share his food with the poor like Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31). The woes are also aimed at those who only seek self-satisfaction (Lk 6:25), not sharing food and drink; those who only seek laughing (v. 25) at the expense of others’ misery and suffering; and those who wish to get praise for false prophets also got praise (v. 26). False prophets had no conviction about what they said, no experience of what they taught. Therefore, they did not proclaim God’s word truthfully, but said only what pleased the audience to cause the hearers to go astray. Those woes are also those warnings to people to repent and reform their lives (Mt 11:21; Mt 23:13-29; Lk 10:13; Lk 11:42-52; Lk 17:1; Lk 21:23; Lk 22:22).

 In our world today, government leaders with the World Trade Organization are trying to find ways to alleviate poverty, hunger and advocate harmony among people. They are trying to raise a high standard of living in society and to make life comfortable and enjoyable for people. Man can have many basic things within their reach: automobile, refrigerator, television, and telephone, wireless phone, computer, health insurance, life insurance, social security and so on. What we are seeing in our advanced economy of society is contrary to what Jesus said in the Beatitudes. So how can we reconcile with the Gospel message today? Can society provide material things, social services, technology and science to make its citizens happy?

 Although with advances in science and technology on the cutting edge, man is still not happy in this life. How can the problem of unhappiness be solved in this life? First, we must realize that the material goods are only passing things. Secondly, we cannot take them with us when we depart from this life. On the other hand, it is hard for us to live a poor man’s life unless we take the vow of poverty in a religious community.

 So how can we apply Jesus’ teachings to our circumstances in the secular world? To live the first Beatitude in Saint Mathew’s gospel in our modern, advanced society, first we have to strive for the evangelical spirit of detachment from material use. That means we need material goods to support life. However, we should not let material goods become an obstacle to our salvation. In addition, we have to learn to put trust and faith in God rather than in material things so that when we are called from this life, we can be ready to go. The prophet Jeremiah today gives us an advice: Blest is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord (Gr 17:7). Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians also echoes: If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all (1Cr 15:19).

 When we put our faith and trust in God, we will consider God as our inheritance, although in the eyes of man, we do not count for anything. Oftentimes those who are poor, hungry, weeping and hated have nothing to cling on to; they have no money to live their decent life, have no power to defend them, and have no friends to depend on. In this case, they can show two reactions: First, they can become hopeless, resentful of God.

 Secondly, they can put their trust and faith in God. When their purpose of life and their reason to live is God, then even though they have no material goods, no friends, no job, no power, they  will not  crumble because they still have somebody almighty, powerful to rely on and something to cling on to. That somebody to depend on is God and something to cling on to is his grace and power. That is their happiness, which God reserves for those, who put their faith and trust in him.

 Prayer for trust and faith in God:

 Oh God whom I adore!

You are our fortress and our refuge.

Grant that I may put my faith and trust in you

in all the circumstances of my life:

when I have enough and when I am poor;

when I am full and when I am hungry;

when I am happy and when I am weeping;

when I am loved and when I am hated.

Never let me be separated from you. Amen.

 John Tran Binh Trong

Hằng tuần Chúa Nói Ta Đáp, Năm A đã được xuất bản tại Hoa Kì và được xuất bản lần 2 tại Việt Nam. Lời giới thiệu về sách được ghi ở Mục: Sách của Tác giả trang chủ cuối cột 1 ___________________

Every Week God Speaks – We Respond, Cycle A was published Online in the US. The introduction of the book is recorded at “Sách của Tác giả Chủ trương, Column 1.

Hằng tuần Chúa Nói Ta Đáp, Năm B đã được xuất bản tại Hoa Kì và được xuất bản lần 2 tại Việt Nam. Lời giới thiệu về sách được ghi ở Mục: Sách của Tác giả trang chủ cuối cột 1

  Hằng tuần Chúa Nói Ta Đáp, Năm C đã được xuất bản tại Hoa Kì và được xuất bản lần 2 tại Việt Nam. Lời giới thiệu về sách được ghi ở Mục: Sách của Tác giả trang chủ, cuối cột 1.


 Năm Mục Vụ Giới Trẻ 2021.  HĐGM ấn định một chương trình Mục vụ Giới trẻ 3 năm với các chủ đề tương ứng: Năm 2020: Đồng hành với người trẻ hướng tới sự trưởng thành toàn diện.

Năm 2021: Đồng hành với người trẻ trong đời sống gia đình. Để hiểu ý nghĩa và thực hành, xin nhấn vào đường dẫn này:


Năm 2022: Đồng hành với người trẻ trong đời sống Giáo hội và xã hội.


Năm Thánh Giu-se: Nhân kỷ niệm 150 năm Đức Giáo hoàng Pio IX chọn thánh Giuse làm Đấng Bảo Trợ Giáo Hội Công Giáo, Đức Phanxicô đã ban hành Tông thư “Patris corde” – Trái tim của người Cha – và công bố “Năm đặc biệt về thánh Giuse” từ ngày 8/12/2020 đến ngày 8/12/2021. Để biết thêm ý nghĩa và áp dụng vào hoàn cảnh VN, xin nhấn vào đường dẫn này:



Năm “Gia đình Amoris Laetitia” 2021 về “Vẻ đẹp và niềm vui của tình yêu gia đình” do Bộ Giáo Dân, Gia Đình và Sự Sống tổ chức, được Đức Phanxicô khai mạc dịp Lễ Thánh Giuse 19/ 3/ 2021 và bế mạc ngày 26/6/2022 trong dịp Hội Ngộ Thế Giới các Gia Đình lần thứ 10 diễn ra tại Roma. Để biết thêm ý nghĩa và áp dụng, xin nhấn vào đường dẫn này:



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