In this passage we are given hope and a warning, or word of caution. Nobody wants to have sorrow or misfortune, so the second part of today’s reading can be a bit frightening. The first half, however, is very uplifting.
What defines poor and what defines rich in this case?
Here in Mexico, I see many people who are living in poor housing conditions, and their food may consist of what they find in their neighbor’s trash. It is like this for many around the world, and it was not until we moved here that I saw it with my own eyes. These are the people I picture Jesus talking to here. Their joy and riches are yet to come, they know it, and they have joy in their hearts as they rely on the promise of Jesus.
Also in our community you find the rich, living in their palace like homes, up on the mountain overlooking the lake. There is no lack of food in their pantries. There is much spending and merriment with others from the same gated communities. An outsider may or may not be included, and if included will certainly feel out of place.
Not all wealth is bad, and not all poverty is good. This should be a heart check for us. What are we dedicating ourselves to? Where are our priorities? Whose acceptance and attention are we seeking?
Here is a verse that bridges these two, “What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.” We can be poor, rich or somewhere in between, and if we are followers of Jesus, we can all celebrate the blessings that await us.
Our hearts will show which camp we are truly in – Jesus’ followers truly have something to be joyful about. “Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” We aren’t promised smooth sailing in this life, and we can expect some persecution. Even the prophets of old were treated poorly.
Don’t lose heart. Jesus will redeem us and give us a future that is worth waiting for. We need to be careful with what we have and how we use it. Are we giving or are we selfish? Are we loving or are we cold? Do you see yourself in today’s passage? Check your heart and let’s be Jesus followers together!
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for all you have given me and entrusted me to handle. Your creation is precious and should be revered and honored. Forgive me when I am gluttonous and wasteful. Cleanse me of all thoughts of greed and selfishness. May I be humble and grateful for all you have done and will do for me. I know the best is yet to come, and I look forward to that day with you. May my actions be pleasing to you and make you smile. In Jesus’ name. Amen.