To read the texts click on the texts: Col 3:1-11; Lk 6:20-26
The Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke is packed into one chapter of 30 verses unlike that of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, which extends over three chapters totalling 109 verses.
Unlike in Matthew’s, “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt 5:1 – 7:29) where Jesus pronounces only Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12), in Luke’s, “Sermon on the Plain”, for each of the four beatitudes there is a corresponding woe. Also unlike Matthew, Luke speaks in the second person and not the third person, which has the effect of making the pronouncements more direct, more personal.
The first beatitude is addressed to the poor (not “the poor in spirit” Mt 5:3). This is indeed a scandalous statement because it overturns all conventional expectations and pronounces a blessing on those who are marginalized. They are promised the kingdom of God by being released from their marginalisation and oppression. It brings to light that God is making an option for the poor. The next two beatitudes concern hunger and mourning and could be addressed to the same group. The poor because they are poor are also hungry and weep. They are promised an end of their hunger in the promise that they will be filled and an end to their weeping and mourning in the promise that they will laugh. The fourth and final beatitude in Luke speaks about the disciple who will be hated, excluded, reviled and defamed. These are called to rejoice in their being reviled and promised a reward in heaven. They are also given as consolation the example of those who went through similar trails before them.
Corresponding to each beatitude, Luke has a woe. The first woe is addressed to the rich who have received their consolation already and so can expect nothing more. Those who have had their fill now and told that they will go hungry and those who laugh now will weep. Those of whom people speak well are compared to the false prophets.
When we look at the injustice, disharmony and poverty around us it is not easy to believe that our God is a God who cares for the poor. Yes, this God became poor in history to show us the way and how we are to live. If we can be a little less selfish, work in our own situations toward harmony and give a little something to someone else, we will be bringing God and his word to them.
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