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.