daily biblical sermons


BLESSED ARE YOU POOR, FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, Sixth Sunday of the Year, February 17, 2019
Jeremiah 17:5-8, Psalm 1, 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20, Luke 6:17, 20-26


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20).


Today's gospel is St. Luke's version of Jesus' Beatitudes, which consist in four Beatitudes followed by four woes that correspond to the four Beatitudes, warning those who don't follow each of these Beatitudes. The first beatitude is,

 

"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20).


Jesus starts off directly addressing his disciples who have left everything to follow him full-time in his itinerant ministry. He says that they are blessed for renouncing a worldly way of life to follow him alone with all their heart and soul.


Jesus is not blessing poor people in general. He is not blessing people because they lack the basic necessities of life, such as food, education, and employment to be able to support themselves and their family, pay their medical bills, and educate their children.


Jesus is rather talking about people who have voluntarily denied themselves worldly pleasures, fine dining, and a worldly, self-centered, self-indulgent way of life so that the subtle joy and love of God in their heart not be drowned out by rich, unhealthy, fattening foods and superficial, worldly, raucous entertainments, amusements, and pastimes that waste their valuable time and make them worldly and spiritually empty people, not useful in God service of preaching the word of life and the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ to the world. Jesus blesses this kind of poor people, whose voluntary poverty and simplicity of life make them supremely useful in his service.


"Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied" (Luke 6:21).


In this beatitude Jesus is not blessing those that suffer from malnutrition, but rather those that choose a simple, wholesome, healthy, and basic diet without doctored up, worldly gastronomic concoctions and delights so that they will be healthy to do God's work in the world, focusing themselves on Christ and seeking their delight in him in order not to divide their heart between the love and joy of God on the one hand and dissipated, worldly pleasures and empty pastimes on the other hand that cause us to forget God. Jesus tells us how we should live when he says,


"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV).


We lose our life in this world by renouncing worldly pleasures, but in doing so we thereby truly find our life in Jesus Christ. Those that don't do this will have a hard time of it entering into the kingdom of God. This means that people that don't deny themselves a life of worldly, superficial pleasures, but rather live the life of a rich person, surrounded by superficial and unnecessary worldly pleasures, rich dining, and time-wasting pastimes will not have an easy time of it as Christians, for their way of life is working against them, impeding their progress in the love of God and neighbor and in living a God-centered, Christ-centered, self-denying way of life, as Jesus says:


"Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23-24).


Such a person's superficial, self-centered, pleasure-centered, self-indulgent way of life is what makes it hard for him to enter the kingdom of God.


"Blessed are you when men 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 fathers did to the prophets" (Luke 6:22-23).


This doesn't refer to criminals and other troublemakers whom people rightly condemn for their crimes or for their false and harmful teaching, but rather it refers to those that are condemned and blacklisted "on account of the Son of man" (Luke 6:23). These are the faithful ministers of Christ who do their job properly and call people to genuine repentance for their sins and to faith in Jesus Christ so that they might be forgiven, justified, and saved.


Such preachers will not be popular among those living in a constant state of objective grave sin. Such unrepentant sinners love their sin and don't want to hear sermons calling them to repent. Therefore they will hate, exclude, and revile you if you call them to genuine repentance and preach in this authentic Christian way. When they do hate and revile you for your faithful preaching, rejoice, for you are doing the right thing, and your reward will be great in heaven. This is how many Israelites treated their prophets, especially Jeremiah.


The corresponding woe to this beatitude is,


"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).


Sometimes we see Church leaders that are praised and adulated by those that are living deviant lifestyles or by those that are living in a constant state of grave sin. Such unrepentant sinners only speak well of these Church leaders. When this happens, remember Jesus' words that he spoke today,


"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).


Such adulation from unrepentant sinners and other deviant and dissident Christians is generally not a positive sign. It may well be a sign that you are not preaching the true gospel, that you are not preaching God's normative biblically revealed moral law and that you are always silent about those aspects of God's moral law that condemn these dissident and unrepentant sinners that are always praising and adulating you.


It may be that they are praising you because you are telling them something like this:


"God is a God of mercy. He is so merciful that in some cases he does not require that some people repent of their mortally sinful life and lifestyle, because in his mercy he sees that that would be too hard for them. So in their case God actually leads these people to continue to live a gravely sinful life, but since it is God himself who is inspiring them to live in this sinful way, when they do so, he does not count it as a sin for them, since it is he himself who is leading them to do these things. Therefore when they live in this sinful way, God actually counts their sins as virtues, as doing God's will, and so they grow in grace, holiness, and virtue by living a life of grave sin."


Believe it or not, this is actually being preached by some Church leaders today. These same Church leaders are greatly praised in adulated by neo-pagan, post-Christian, anti-Christian, liberal mainstream media types, and by unrepentant sinners. The praise that they receive from these dissident people is not a good thing, because these Church leaders are preaching in a way that contradicts God's normative biblically revealed moral law, which justified Christians are both enabled and obliged to keep. So this praise and adulation from unrepentant sinners and from neo-pagan media types for teaching and preaching smooth things rather than the truth of the gospel - such adulation is nothing but a sign that these Church leaders are false prophets.


"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).


So it is not a good thing at all - it is a very bad thing, in fact - when a Church leader is praised for preaching a false gospel, such as a false gospel of mercy without the need for genuine repentance and amendment of life. Such a preacher is not doing his job if he preaches in this way and people living deviant, immoral lives praise him for his preaching. He is failing to do what he should be doing, which is to call people to genuine repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and a new life as justified Christians following God's normative biblically revealed moral law.


To preach mercy without the need for repentance is false preaching, but it will win you praise and adulation from worldly mainstream media types. Woe to you if that happens to you, for that is how the spiritual ancestors of these people treated the false prophets in Israel. They praised them, because these false prophets told them exactly what they wanted to hear, that all was well with them and with their sinful way of life, when, in fact, all was not at all well with them. Such adulation from such people for preaching mercy without the need for genuine repentance is a sign that these preachers are false prophets.

 

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