This week the Gospel reading is St. Luke’s version of the famous teaching Jesus gives his disciples about how to live in the new Kingdom of God. In Matthew’s Gospel this section of Jesus’ story is called the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke’s Gospel the setting is different, Jesus is teaching on a plain, and the emphasis and word choice is similar but sharper.
Luke makes it clear that those who are in poverty now will expect a stunning reversal of fortune in the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurates. And likewise, those who are wealthy, well, they’re going to have a reversal as well. Those who drench their bed at night with tears worrying about how to pay their bills or how to care for their children? That’s going to turn completely around. Those who have enough and more? Well, that’s going to be taken away from them in future.
All of this is familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the message of the Gospel. But it’s still astounding how many of us either ignore this teaching or rationalize it away. That’s not unique to our day by the way. You can see how the language is softened or spiritualized in other places in the Early Church as well.
Is there hope for those of us who have enough? For those of us who sleep soundly at night not fearing what the next day will bring? Jesus says that with God all things are possible, so perhaps. But better we should use our wealth and our privilege to make friends with those who lack today, so that in the future, we will have someone to speak up for us when we need it.