Sunday Church at Home – 13th February, 6th Sunday OT

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Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Two Ways, or Beatitudes.

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

All reply:        Amen

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:        Blessed be God for ever

Leader:          We are all searching for happiness. Jesus calls us to work with him to build a world of peace and happiness for all. Today we ask for the spirit of discernment to help us to recognise the choices we have to make if we are to be the people God wants us to be.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-8

Introduction to the reading:

In the last years before the crushing defeat of Jerusalem and the exile of many of its citizens to Babylon, Jeremiah watched the people destroying themselves through materialism and unfaithfulness to God. Here he sets before them a clear choice.

A reading from the Book of Jeremiah.

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man
and makes flesh his arm,
whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.”

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1:1-2.3.4 & 6 (R. Psalm 40:4ab)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

Blessed indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the path with sinners,
nor abides in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is the law of the Lord,
and who ponders his law day and night.

He is like a tree that is planted
beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves shall never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper.

Not so are the wicked, not so!
For they, like winnowed chaff,
shall be driven away by the wind.
for the Lord knows the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

R/. Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12.16-20

Introduction to the reading: In last week’s reading from first Corinthians, we heard the oldest written record of the Church’s core tradition about Christ’s resurrection. Today’s passage follows directly from that, as Paul addresses concerns about our own resurrection.

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:

If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some of you say
that there is no resurrection of the dead?

For if the dead are not raised,
then Christ has not been raised.
If Christ has not been raised,
your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and leap for joy, says the Lord,
for behold, your reward is great in heaven
Alleluia!

Gospel: Luke 6:17.20-26

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
Jesus came down with the Twelve and stood on a level place,
with a great crowd of his disciples
and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon,
who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude you and revile you,
and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!
Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy,
for behold, your reward is great in heaven;
for so their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you that are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you that are full now,
for you shall hunger.
“Woe to you that laugh now,
for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you,
for so their ancestors did to the false prophets.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 Jesus came down with the twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people.

And he taught them, saying “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

And Simon Peter said, “Do we have to write this down?”
And Phillip said “Are we going to be tested on this?”
And John said, “Would you repeat that, slower?”
And Andrew said, “John the Baptist’s disciples don’t have to learn this stuff.”
And Matthew said, “What?”
And Judas said, “What’s this got to do with real life?”

And then one of the Pharisees, an expert in law, said, “I don’t see any of this in your syllabus. Do you have a lesson plan? Where’s the student guide? Will there be a follow-up assignment?”

And Thomas, who had missed the sermon, came to Jesus privately and said, “Did we do anything important today?”

And Jesus wept.

Blessed are you who are poor…
Blessed are you who are now hungry…
Blessed are you who are now weeping…
Blessed are you when people hate you…

The question is: who would believe that?

In the gospel of Matthew the beatitude on the poor goes like this:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” But the gospel of Luke boldly says, “Blessed are you who are poor…”

In the gospel of Matthew, the beatitude on hunger states: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” But the gospel of Luke boldly says, “Blessed are you who are hungry now…”

For the most part, beatitudes were an ancient formula that encouraged people to do good.

  • For example, in our Responsorial Psalm we read, “Blessed is the one who does not take the wicked for his guide, nor walks the road that sinners tread.”
  • Psalm 41 says, “Blessed are those who consider the poor. The Lord will deliver them in time of trouble.”
  • Jeremiah 17 has “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, … he is like a tree planted [next to] water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green.”

But the gospel of Luke says that blessed are the poor, and the hungry, and the weeping and being hated. Who would want to be poor, or hungry, or weep or be hated?

  • We have seen many terrible scenes of poverty, hunger, sadness and hatred on our TV screens and all the suffering they cause.
  • Instead what people want is to be rich, to be filled now, to laugh now and be well spoken of.

In our Gospel today Jesus did notsay that poverty, or hunger, or sadness or hatred is a blessing.

  • Instead Jesus said that people are blessed when they are poor, hungry, weeping and hated.
  • Poverty, hunger, sadness and hatred are not blessings but these conditions of need and dependence make us rely on God.
  • When we rely on God then we are who we are meant to be – humans in relationship with God our creator.
  • So the poverty, hunger, weeping, hatred, or whatever our cross is can be an instrument to draw us closer to God.
  • When we have a cross in our lives, we find fulfilment when we allow it to keep us close to God.
  • In that sense our cross is also our blessing and what Jesus said in today’s Gospel is true,

Blessed are you who are poor…
Blessed are you who are now hungry…
Blessed are you who are now weeping…
Blessed are you when people hate you…

Just look at history.The Church has grown under persecution.

  • Take that persecution away and the Church in that particular place loses some of its vibrancy.
  • Of course Jesus does not mean that in itself it is good to be poor, hungry, weeping or hated.
  • Poverty, hunger, sadness, and hatred are social problems we should strive to conquer.
  • In Luke 16:19ff , Jesus told the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
    • This parable reminds those with a surplus to help the needy.
    • When the two men died the poor man was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham while the rich man was in torment in Hades.

When we are rich, filled now, laugh now and are well spoken of we may be tempted to forget about God.

  • We may be tempted to forget the gifts and talents that God has given us.
  • Instead, it is easy to let power and manipulation and selfishness and arrogance become my gods now.
  • Being rich, filled now, laughing now, and well spoken of, are not in themselves contrary to God.
  • In the book of Genesis, we discover that Abram was very rich in livestock, silver and gold, which did not prevent him from answering God’s call.
  • It was the rich man Joseph of Arimathea who buried Jesus in his new tomb (Matt 27:57).
  • But a certain level of maturity is required to live with worldly blessings or riches and put God first.
  • If we lose ourselves in the blessings and riches of this world instead of losing ourselves in God of the blessings and riches it is indeed a “woe” to use the words of Jesus today.
  • So what looks like a blessing in the eyes of the world can from the spiritual point of view turn out to be a woe and the words of Jesus are proved true,

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” (Luke 6:24-26)

Those who trust in the Lord are blessed because they believe what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in our second reading,

“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15:19-20)

Our hope is not for this life only, but for what Christ offers us. The true riches are spiritual riches, not the riches this world has to offer. True riches come from Christ who makes us spiritually rich.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)

Poverty, hunger, weeping and hatred are not blessings but states of need and dependence that make us rely on God.

  • When we rely on God then we are who we are meant to be, humans in relationship with God our Creator.
  • So poverty, hunger, weeping, hatred or whatever our own particular cross is, can be an instrument to draw us closer to God.
  • Whatever cross we have in our lives should become a means to help us to keep us close to God. Our cross is also our blessing and therefore,

Blessed are you who are poor…
Blessed are you who are now hungry…
Blessed are you who are now weeping…
Blessed are you when people hate you…

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.”

Reflection:

As Jesus announced, the blessings of the kingdom are already present to his disciples – but not fully. Thus, his Beatitudes stir up hope and form our way of thinking and acting as we wait for the fullness of God’s Reign. We persevere in our struggles to live as members of God’s community and we pay special attention to those in need, those Jesus has called ” blessed.”

So, we ask ourselves:

  • What touched me in the readings today?
  • What standards do I use to measure “success” in life?
  • How would those standards measure up to the Beatitudes? Or, are they among the “woes” Jesus rejects?

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:         

As followers of Jesus who blessed those who were poor and suffering, we bring before our loving Father the needs of our Church and of all who are suffering in our world.

Reader:

We pray for the Pope and for all leaders in the Church:

may all that they say and do be for the service of God’s kingdom.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for an end to violence and the exploitation of the poor: that God will raise up those who are exploited in slave-like working conditions or caught in human trafficking and heal their wounds, and lead them to a new life.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are hungry: that we may work towards lasting solutions to the world’s food poverty, and for the generosity to welcome those who are needy to our table.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are persecuted or suffering for their faith: that they may have the strength to bear the burdens of the day and be convincing witnesses of the new life given by God.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who have suffered abuse of any kind:

may they receive justice and the consolation of God’s peace.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for our teams preparing for the next Alpha Online:

that they may serve with love and humility as they bring the Good News to all.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

Leader:          Prayer against crime:

LORD GOD,

from the depths of our hearts,

we pray that you will comfort, heal and bless all the victims of crime. 

We pray too that you will protect all people from the evil of crime and violence. 

We pray especially for the conversion of all criminals –

remove all evil from their hearts

and fill them with your goodness and love,

that they may cease their evil works

and that our city and our land

may be freed from the scourge of crime and violence. 

We pray also for the grace

to purge ourselves of all violence

in our own thoughts and actions,

in our family life, in our friendships

and in our relationships with others.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion. By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:          

Most holy God,

teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true.
Grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you. 

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

Blessing

The leader says:

May God bless us with every heavenly blessing,

and make us always holy and pure in his sight.

Amen.

May God pour out in abundance upon us the riches of his glory,

and teach us with the words of truth.

Amen.

May God instruct us in the Gospel of salvation,

and ever endow us with fraternal charity.

Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:                  Amen.

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