“Blessed are you poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you.”
(Read Luke 6: 20–49)
The Gospel of Luke, in Chapter six, offers a synthesis of baptismal catechesis. He introduces the fundamental reason of evangelization: the face of the Son that reveals that of the Father, a mirror of our own countenance. It is Jesus’ self-portrait that discloses who He is and what He is doing. Listening to this Word makes the Church; and the Church is such inasmuch as it implements this Word. This Word is the beginning and the end of our life. It is God’s very life given to each individual person.
The sermon starts with four congratulations for the poor and four condolences for the rich. God’s logic overturns that of the world. Already, at present, the kingdom of God belongs to the poor. Their future—satisfaction, laughter and exultation—is left to our responsibility: what we do on their behalf saves us more than them (cf. Mt 25: 31–46).
God is love that owns nothing, but gives everything, also Himself. Only thus is He Himself. The poor are in the best position to be like Him: since they own nothing, they can only give themselves. It is an emptiness that can receive everything, even God Himself. Contrary to God, the rich are full of themselves and already own everything—but to own things and people and oneself is egoism, the source of every evil. Injustice and famine, hatred and wars, exclusion and fighting: all this comes from greed. Human beings want to be like God, and rightly so—but the Father’s false image, as suggested by the serpent, twists into death our desire for life.
According to St Ignatius, the “sacred doctrine,” i.e. the essence of Christianity, is Jesus’ “style”, as outlined by the Beatitudes. He sends the apostles to train every person to love poverty, service and humility instead of riches, power and pride. Only thus do we become like God and are able to know Him: the like is known by the like. Because of this, evangelization is not in itself “speaking about the Lord”, but “witnessing to Him” with our own life. To speak about Him without witnessing to Him is the first cause of atheism!
From this foundation of values, a different way of life originates and this, in turn, creates a new world. The others are no longer enemies to hate but brothers to love. In this way, we become like God who acts thus. The law of freedom, proper of love, is that of the Son: “Be merciful (i.e. from the womb, motherly), like your Father is merciful” who does not judge or condemn, but forgives and gives everything. Whoever has this spirit of poverty, love, mercy, giving and forgiving becomes a living gospel. He is one who is evangelized and, in turn, evangelizes in many ways. He is “a witness” of Jesus: he has the same identity and relevance as a child of God.
This identity makes him “salt of the earth” that gives taste to every reality (Mt 5: 13), a “tiny seed” that becomes the huge tree of the kingdom (Mk 4: 30ff), hidden yeast that leavens the whole dough (Lk 12: 20). This hidden identity, tiny and invisible, generates its own relevance: it is “Christ’s perfume” that spreads around (2 Cor 2: 14ff), “light of the world” that shows the truth to everybody (Mt 5: 14a; John 8: 12), “city built on the mountain top” that manifests a beautiful way of staying together (Mt 5: 14b), “echo” of the Word that spreads everywhere (1 Ts 1: 9ff), “imitator” of the Apostle and “model” for all (1 Ts 1: 6.7).
Evangelization grows through the imitation of models that we propose to ourselves. Luke’s baptismal sermon proposes, as a model for us, to imitate Jesus Himself (1 Cor 11: 1), the Son who bears the countenance of the Father. If one acts like Him, he builds on rock: he dwells in the same house as God Himself (Eph 2: 19–22). Otherwise, he “builds on sand”: what he does collapses, and great is its ruin.
Reflect & Share
- Does our catechesis consist in inculcating more or less right ideas or in making known and loved, Jesus’ countenance as manifested in the Beat?
- At personal, church and society level, what are doing for the poor?