BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time | February 17, 2019
So earlier this week, I was asking around the dining room table, “So, what are the readings for this weekend?”
You know, common discussion points at a Oblate dinner.
And Fr. Frank goes, “the Beatitudes.”
And I must admit, my heart dropped a little. Because the last time I had to preach on the Beatitudes was Dametrius’s funeral. And I just didn’t think I could do it again.
Everything is still too raw.
But then Frank continued. But not the happy versions of Matthew. We get the really depressing version from Luke.
And my head kinda swiveled. The really depressing version? Why did my memory only recall one version of the Beatitudes? So I went up to my room that night and read the Lucan version.
But the funny thing was, I didn’t find them depressing at all. In fact, they were startling refreshing. Because they helped me to see where my own mourning had taken me.
See, when I see the four groups that Luke declares as blessed . . . the poor, those who weep, the hungry and those who are hated for the sake of Christ, I see a common thread.
For each of these groups finds themselves on the margins of the society in which we live. Kept out of sight and out of mind. So that we don’t feel uncomfortable by their presence. By their need.
A reality I have felt keenly over the last few weeks. Because I’ve come to realize that grieving makes people really uncomfortable. Especially when they are used to you being the one who is always smiling. Always strong. Always in a good mood.
People don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to do. They just want you to be okay as soon as possible.
And they quickly move on. As you feel stuck in this morass of pain. Unsure of how to get out. Unsure of how to keep moving forward.
Stuck on the outside, looking at a world that seems to just keep spinning without you.
And I don’t think I am alone.
I think that most of us in this room have found ourselves in one of these categories over our lifetime.
And we have known the unenviable position of being on the outside.
We lost our job or went through a divorce and suddenly found ourselves in a rather precarious financial state.
We were making the tough choices between paying this bill and making sure our kids had Christmas presents.
We buried our husband or our classmate or our mother or our grandparent. And yet, still needed to get up the next day and go to work or go to school.
We’ve cried tears of frustration and pain at always being excluded. Cut from the team. Mocked by our peers. Bullied simply because we are different.
We grapple with depression and anxiety, fighting each day simply to get out of bed.
And in our poverty, our hunger, our grief, our weeping we can often find ourselves alone.
And that is why I find these beatitudes so refreshing. Because it is to us that they are proclaimed.
For our God is the God of those on the margins. It is with us that our God chooses to stand. It is the poor that he cares for. The hungry he feeds. The homeless he shelters. The grieving he comforts. The persecuted he defends.
Our God is not afraid of our need. Like a mother hen, she opens her wings and shelters us beneath them. Providing us safety, security, belonging, comfort, and community.
For as this Gospel proclaims, there will be a time of woe for each of us.
For in a moment, the wealth we possess can be stripped away. The company downsizes. The market takes a turn. We get a medical diagnosis that bankrupts us.
In a moment, our happiness can be dashed by devastating news. It’s over. I’m leaving. You’ve been rejected. He’s gone.
In a moment, our popularity can evaporate. Cut down by a difficult decision we must make. Cut down by a rumor or gossip that runs amok. Cut down by the shifting winds of opinion.
And in these times of trial, we are reminded of the truth of this Gospel. Which is that at the end of the day, it is our God who remains. Ever steadfast. Ever present. Alive and at work in Her people. Gathered here. The Church on earth.
Dispelling our fear.
Meeting our need.
Standing beside us until the dawn of a new age. When every tear will be wiped away. Every hunger satisfied. And all will dwell forever in the house of the Lord.
May God be Praised.