The Shock Value of the Backwards Beatitudes

#MyMassTakeaway for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Guys, Jesus is trying to provoke us with the Beatitudes.

Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.

Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes aren’t something that are supposed to make us feel good. They’re not comfortable or safe.

The Beatitudes are intentionally counter-intuitive. Their worth begins with their shock value.

Blessed are the poor? That doesn’t sound right. Blessed are the hungry and the weeping? I would have guessed the opposite.

Blessed are you when they hate you?

Hold up, Jesus.

That doesn’t sound like a blessing. Sounds like Jesus has got this backwards.

What will really make us happy?

The Beatitudes aren’t what we’d normally consider an “inspiring” sermon. They’re a brutal wake up call.

Jesus is reminding us of the hard truth.

You think money will make you happy? It’s not. You think food will do the trick? It won’t. You think that popularity is the key? Think again.

These things don’t last, and they don’t satisfy.

If we put our stock in them, we’re sure to be disappointed. Jesus warns us against this. Woe to you who are rich, full, happy, and popular. Woe to everyone who turns to earthly things to fulfill them.

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t want us to be happy, it’s that he desires for us a happiness that lasts.

No matter what we have in this life, it’s going to end in death. Jesus puts this in hard-to-swallow language that shocks us out of our complacency.

We can’t take our money, food, recreation, or even our friends with us.

Hope Isn’t For This Life

Paul points to this truth in his letter to the Corinthians:

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.


But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15: 17-20

We don’t put our hope in Christ as some sort of magical genie who will give us good things in this life.

We put our hope in Christ’s Resurrection.

Our hope is for the things of heaven. We look ahead to our death, and beyond.

We’re all going to die. There’s no getting around it. And at that time, we let go of all our earthly blessings – including our body!

What do we have left?

Jesus.

Heaven.

If there’s no Resurrection, there’s no heaven waiting for us. And if that’s true, then nothing really matters.

But Jesus did rise from the dead. And by his Resurrection, he opened the gates of heaven to us.

If we let go of the earthly things we cling to, our hands will be free to reach for heaven. To seek the true blessings, the eternal blessings.

So today, we rejoice in our suffering, because it reminds us where our true happiness is. It’s not in food, money, or popularity. It’s not in earthly pleasure.

Our true happiness lies in our hope in heaven.

All that matters is Christ’s love for us, and ours for him.

Today, let the shock value of these readings sink in. Let it push you out of your comfort zone, and redirect your desire for happiness.

Today, seek Christ over all blessings of this life.

For there, you will find your true happiness.

#MyMassTakeaway Linkup

#MyMassTakeaway is a community building hashtag. I encourage you to use it to share your thoughts about the Mass, Eucharist, and readings every Sunday.

Check out these reflections, and head over to Instagram to join!

tojesussincerely

Here’s my takeaway (in shortened form) over on Instagram! 

prayerwinechocolate

Amy from Prayer Wine Chocolate shares her reflection on the beatitudes, and the thought that popped in her head:

“Blessed are the infertile.”

Amy’s story is one of complete trust in God in the midst of the cross.

surprisedbymarriage

This line from Jen and Logan’s takeaway really struck me today:

“Remember that God loves you more than anything, and he’s with you through all of the hard times.”

praisingjesusinthemess

Today, Carissa reflects about praising Jesus in the storm. This can be so hard, right? But such an important part of the Christian faith.

“Just cling to Him, stay rooted, TRUST in Him! It will lead you to eternal joy!”

View this post on Instagram

#mymasstakeaway I love how I can find a Catholic Church anywhere and be fed even when I am away from my home parish. I am always thankful for our parish, but it’s such a comfort attending another and everything is familiar and the same. Today’s readings focus on trusting in the Lord and staying rooted in your faith; standing firm when the storms come. I truly believe it’s during those storms when we bare the most fruit, IF we remain rooted and cling to God. I’m on my way to my grandfather’s funeral. I’m sure the next few days will be full of sorrow and joys as we burry him. I think of my grandmother who will start a new life without her beloved by her side. I think of my grandfather who suffered much. How I really wish I was coming for a visit with him, but how God is comforting me and reminding me he is at peace, no longer suffering. He stayed rooted during his time on earth. He held firm to how he wanted to pass and died peacefully in his home with his beloved by his side, receiving last rites several times these last few years, an on the day of his death. My Aunt shared with me the other day that God gives us the grace when we need it. What a beautiful gift! I think of the difficult times in my life and I am reminded that really people couldn’t take away my sorrow, my anxiety, my fears… Sure they could try, but ultimately it was my trust in Him and my faith in Him that helped me to get through it all. I just can’t imagine not having that. I’m so thankful the Lord taught me to trust in Him in such a special way and at the perfect time in my life. It’s changed me, molded me, and is still continuing. I’m also comforted by the last two readings (see pictures above) What a beautiful comfort and timely reminder of the hope we have in Christ and the resurrection of the dead. To be reminded we will see our loved ones again if we stay rooted in Christ! That even though we suffer here on earth, our reward will be great in heaven!!! Just cling to Him, stay rooted, TRUST in Him! It will lead you to eternal joy! The last thing is just a song. I heard it last week and to hear it again was such a comfort! It always speaks to my heart! Read it, see what it says to yours❤️

A post shared by Carissa (@praisingjesusinthemess) on

catholic_pilgrim79

I always look forward to Amy’s reflections – but not because they’re “feel good.” I love them because they always hit me with a hard truth and challenge me to grow.

Amy starts with: “You will be laughed at. You will be persecuted. You will be misunderstood, rejected, and hated.”

But she reminds us: “Be willing to except the challenge of living as Christianity is meant to be lived.”

View this post on Instagram

Is Christianity a guarantee against bad things happening to you? No. You will be laughed at. You will be persecuted. You will be misunderstood, rejected, and hated. You will have to stand against the world. Many times you will be alone. You will have hardships. This is not a comfy Faith, at least it shouldn’t be. There are those that would make the Faith about God wanting comfort, riches, and pleasure for us. There are those that water down the messages of the Bible so that they are easier to follow. Too many of us “trust in human beings,” which causes us to doubt God’s teachings and then our “hearts turn away from the Lord.” A bland, easy Faith makes our lives like a “barren bush in the desert.” There’s no substance. No grit. Nothing really. It just becomes a label we half-heartedly carry around. But, if we “trust in the Lord,” if we hope in Him, we will be like a “tree planted beside the waters.” When the heat or drought comes, we can withstand and still bear fruit. Be willing to except the challenge of living as Christianity is meant to be lived. Be brave enough to not try to morph the Faith into what we want. It must be God’s way or we are just playing a game. Be courageous enough to live the Faith boldly and accept the crosses that come with it. Christ will ask must of you, Catholic Pilgrims, but it’s because He created us knowing we are capable of holiness with His help. What is right and good for us rarely is the easy way. #mymasstakeaway

A post shared by Amy Thomas (@catholic_pilgrim79) on

beautifulcamouflagedmess

Anni’s story about living out the beatitudes really moved me. Are we courageous enough to do the difficult right thing?

“God doesn’t call us to comfort, my dear reader; rather, He calls us to greatness… through Him. So, don’t shy away from being bold, being brave, and being Catholic.”

View this post on Instagram

I vividly recall the day I learned the value of the Beatitudes. Her name was “Kat,” we were in the fourth grade, and I told kids to back off from teasing her. From that moment, I became the target of classroom bullies, and learned the hard lessons crystallized in today’s Gospel readings… “Blessed are you who are poor… Blessed are you who are now hungry… Blessed are you who are now weeping… Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man…” . . As a mother, I dread the days in which my children learn this world is not all sunshine and rainbows. I worry for those days they learn the world is full of those who will taunt, be cruel, and ostracize them if they live their Christian Faith. Yet, as much as I don’t look forward to the days ahead, I know they must come. . . I have faith. Faith they will have been taught to stay strong in the face of adversity, and to stick up for the “less popular” kid, or befriend the lonely bystander, or offer gentle, kind words to the scared newcomer. I have faith they will know the comfort of The Beatitudes… a source of comfort to me throughout many periods in my life. . . God doesn’t call us to comfort, my dear reader; rather, He calls us to greatness… through Him. So, don’t shy away from being bold, being brave, and being Catholic. He will bring you through the challenges, to glory on the other side! . . #boldbravecatholic #catholicmom #catholiclife #mymasstakeaway w/ @tojesussincerely #beatitudes #wordsofcomfort #inspiration #catholicinspiration #catholicblogger #catholicsofinstagram #catholicsonline

A post shared by Anni Harry (@beautifulcamouflagedmess) on

mccw_gram

I love this post that gives encouragement to Catholic military women.

“However, the Lord doesn’t promise us that service to Him will be easy. Yet, it will be rewarding. And, as we see in today’s readings – especially the Responsorial Psalm, ‘Blessed are they who hope in the Lord…'”

ingridblixt

Ingrid’s reflection reminds us that it’s important to search for happiness in the right place. It’s okay to desire happiness – God placed that desire in each of our hearts! But we need to know happiness comes from Christ.

“The crazy search for happiness is truly useless if it’s not rooted in Christ.”

View this post on Instagram

#myMassTakeaway If we do what we are called to do Happiness will follow us – our deacon had a very clever #homily today and the readings were so awesome. The search for happiness is an ongoing mission since the dawn of humanity and our fierce search most of times takes us running in circles. His sweet and funny story is a good one: a young puppy and a seasoned dog were chatting. The young pup said: in my short life I realized the happiness is in my tail! That's why often I may be found chasing my tail in circles but I can never catch it. The old dog replied: through the course of my life I realized as well that the happiness is in my tail. But what I learned is that if I quietly go about my business the tail/happines will follow me wherever I go. Lol but true. The crazy search for happiness is truly useless if it's not rooted in Christ "Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He us like a tree planted beside the waters…in the year if drought it shows no distress but still bears fruit" Jeremiah 17:5-8 #Beatitude means blessed or happy. If we can find joy in suffering and pain then we can find happiness always. Put your trust in the Lord- he is worth it and He always keeps his promises. Ultimately, Faith is easy when life is easy. We realize how strong our faith is when we face difficulties. How else would you find out? Surrendering fully to the will of God, putting all our trust in Him will result in a miraculous thing. A way or another He will show up and strengthen our faith and gradually we will be able to enjoy the change of seasons, we will see beauty in everything. +++++ I did the drawing above of a Romanian woman I met at Birsana Monastery in #Romania. Dressed in traditional clothing, her #sundaybest, she was so humble, she was #blessed . Each time I tried to take a picture of her she took that pose: head looking down, in total surrender not to life but to God. I call this artwork The Beatitude. Graphite, charcoal on wood. . . . . #happines @tojesussincerely @stgerardchurch #beatitudes #sacredart #ingridblixt #drawing #love #drawclosertogod #thewordisalive #catholiccommunity #faith #religiousart

A post shared by Ingrid Blixt (@ingridblixt) on

ordinaryholiness

I love when something I read reminds me that I’m not perfect. Not because I want to beat myself up, but because it offers me an opportunity to grow.

“Pride sneaks into our lives so easily in small ways… and today’s readings show us that those who practice humility, who are poor, who suffer humiliation, and who weep, the kingdom of heaven shall be theirs.”

ginnykochis

I’ve shared Ginny’s experience SO many times. Just when I feel about beat by the struggle of bringing kids to Mass, somebody comes forward with encouragement and a heart full of love for them.

I love that Ginny shares her story to encourage moms to keep bringing the kids to Mass!

“The truth is, my friend, your perception of your family is rarely reality. God – and pretty much the rest of your community – sees its beauty and truth.”

findingherlittleway

I love this reflection on the desire for happiness and perfection placed in our souls by God.

“It is truly a God-sized hole that only He is big enough to fill; and if you look to him, he will fill it.”

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