Detailed homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: THE HAPPINESS OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD.
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday February 13 2022
R1 – Jer 17:5-8
R2 – 1Cor 15:12,16-20
GOSPEL – Luke 6:17,20-26
In his article, “The American Fairy Tale,” Dr. Harold Treffert, a renowned American Psychologist, discussed five dangerous ideas we have about the meaning of happiness. First, happiness lies in things. The more you accumulate and have, the happier you will be. Second, happiness is what you do. The more you produce and earn, the happier you will be. Third, happiness is being the same as others. The more you are fashionable and conform with the times, the happier you will be. Fourth, happiness is mental health. The fewer problems you have and the more carefree you are, the happier you will be. Fifth, happiness is communicating with electronic gadgets. The more you can communicate with a television set, iphone, a satellite, or a computer, the happier you will be.
Beloved in Christ, indeed, the blessedness (happiness) of the children of God is not solely dependent on (i) Material things, (ii) Attainment of certain goals or heights in life (iii) Being trendy and fashionable (iv) Living without challenges and responsibilities (v) Using sophisticated modern gadgets, as we see in the introit analysis of Dr Harold.
However, we could ask ourselves, “If true happiness cannot be found through these five myths of ‘The American Fairy Tale,’ then where do we find it? Too many people make the mistake of seeking one more material thing, one more pay raise, one more promotion, one more problem solved, one more handicap overcome. “If only I had that,” we often say, “I would be happy.” Too late we realise that happiness does not come from all those stuff.
Nevertheless, Jesus gives us the answer to true happiness today, when he outlines the beatitudes in today’s Gospel.
In general, the entire readings of this Sunday’s liturgy teach us that true happiness, or beatitude, lies in the awareness of who we are and of what we are supposed to do.
The Beatitudes are technically known as “macarisms”, or blessings (from the Greek makarios, meaning “blessed” or “happy.”) Macarisms are found in the Book of Proverbs, in the Psalms, and even in the Book of Revelation. There are thirty-seven beatitudes in the New Testament, seventeen of which are sayings of Jesus. The Beatitudes appear in the Old Testament as well.
In the first reading, Jeremiah tells us that true happiness consists in our placing our trust in God and in putting our trust in His promises.
St. Paul in the second reading, exhorts us that true beatitude is obtainable only in Heaven, and that Christ’s Resurrection gives us our assurance of reaching Heaven for an everlasting life of happiness.
Jesus in today’s gospel, instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow, and persecution. “Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted and denounced,” because in poverty, we recognize our dependence on God; in hunger, God’s providence; in sorrow for sins, reconciliation with God; and in persecution, the true joy of standing for the Faith with heroic convictions. What makes one blessed is not simply poverty or hunger or sadness or suffering for the Faith but living these in the context of one’s commitment to Jesus and his spirit of sharing.
*THE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN GOD*
Jesus, after choosing His apostles, came down from the mountain and proclaims the four beatitudes and four woes.
The beatitudes and woes came as a huge shock and revolution in Jesus’ time. The in-thing was the blessedness of the rich, where riches were celebrated as blessing from God, and poverty as a curse. Jesus came in to contradict the standards by reminding them that the ways of God are quite different from that of men. Worldly measure of blessedness and happiness is in sharp contrast with that of the kingdom of God.
By so doing, Jesus turns worldly values up side down. If we compare the worldly preaching and the preaching of Jesus, the world preaches efficiency, it glorifies success and worships power. The society announces that happiness comes from wealth, affluence and freedom from any form of pain while Jesus tells the poor and the hungry, the weeping and the hated that the Kingdom of God is for them. They are God’s preferred people. What is the reason?
An exegete wrote, the Poor is called in the Scripture as anawim or the poor of Yahweh and it has four stages of understanding.
First, the poor are those people who are without material wealth.
Second, because they are materially poor, these people are usually without power and clout. The poor are helpless and without influence.
Third, because they are powerless, these people are often oppressed and exploited. The poor are exploited people. Many people take advantage of them.
Fourth, because they are helpless and unprotected, these people turn to God. God is the only person that they can turn to. They are those people who put their total trust in God.
He wrote further, these are the people Jesus called ‘blessed.’ They realized that they could not depend on the things of the world for happiness. They do not clutch at anything whether wealth or power or security. Unlike the rich who are trapped because they hang on to their material riches, influence and comfort. The poor are capable of letting the tasty food go and of seeking their happiness in God alone. Even if others may have a lot of money, but this is nothing in the Kingdom of God. God chooses the weak to compound the strong. God chooses the weak to bring His mission to completion.
(1) *EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE DOCILE TO THE BEATITUDES’ CHALLENGE*
The beatitudes challenge us today to reach out to a huge number of those who are starving, persecuted, homeless, and leading hopeless lives. The only way the promises of the Beatitudes can become a reality for them is through the efforts of people like us. That is why we are told that we will be judged on the basis of our acts of mercy and charity (Mt 25:31-46). St. Teresa of Calcutta, (Mother Teresa) and her Missionaries of Charity accepted this challenge and demonstrated that we can “live the Beatitudes” in the modern world. Hence, let us remember that each time we reach out to help the needy, the sick, and the oppressed, we share with them a foretaste of the promises of the Beatitudes here and now.
(2) *WE SHOULD STRIVE AFTER THE BLESSEDNESS (HAPPINESS) THAT ENDURES*
The banal concept of ‘men enwero joy’ or ‘no joy,’ among the youths leaves room for the scampering for happiness at all cost.
This simply accounts for the increasing cases of blood sacrifices and ritual killings by many young people today. The truth of the matter is that, these inhumane and obnoxious steps can only increase our sorrows. The true happiness that endures consists in trusting God (the poor in spirit) in every situation. Fast lane and quick money has never helped any age. Keep trusting in the Lord.
(3) *THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS QUITE SYNONYMOUS WITH SUFFERINGS AND PERSECUTIONS*
The scriptural examples of the lives of Job, Elijah, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lord Jesus Christ and all the saints leave us with no better lesson than the belief that the Christian life is lived out fully in the face of oppositions, persecutions and sufferings. To be a Christian means to become poor, go hungry, weep, mourn, be hated for the sake of Christ. St Paul counted all his losses as gains for Christ’s sake (Phil 3:8).
Finally, beloved in Christ, if we really want to understand the way of the Beatitudes, we must look up to Christ, and also to the saints, especially those saints who walked the way of the beatitudes with smallness and humility like:
(a) St. Francis, the “little poor man of Assisi,” whose spiritual biography is called the Fioretti or Little Flowers;
(b)The Little Flower herself, Therese of Lisieux, whose spirituality is called the “Little Way,” the little way of spiritual childhood. This is a way of trust and love: of loving confidence in God’s goodness in all circumstances; of deep awareness of our total dependence on Him for all things.
I conclude with the words of St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
MAY THE LORD GRANT US THE GRACE TO LIVE OUT THE BEATITUDES BY WHOLEHEARTEDLY EMBRACING SUFFERINGS AND PERSECUTIONS FOR THE SAKE OF HIS KINGDOM.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_