Reflection on the Daily Readings for 9/18/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 447. I Tim. 6:2-12. Psalm 49:6-7.8-10.17-18.19-20.
Scripture is alive and well. When pondered over in the light of
today’s happenings, it can speak to us and offer us some consolation, some
insights, and how to help the world to be a better place. The readings
today focus on the condition of so many people who are poor and are forced
to the brink of dying because of their hunger and their extreme poverty.
We need to take seriously the call of Jesus given to us in the Sermon on
the Mount. Today it is about poverty of spirit and the need for us to put
that into practice by helping those who are totally deprived of food and
water. Jesus words ring out, “Happy the poor in spirit; the kingdom of
heaven is theirs.” This is our Psalm response for today. The Psalm itself
and the other readings fit the theme of poverty of spirit and simplicity of
our lifestyle. We who are able to listen to this or read it are probably
not among those dying of hunger and thirst. Therefore, our call to be poor
in spirit is very relevant for us who do have the necessities of life.
In the Soncino commentary on the Psalm these words help us to wake up
to the cry of the poor. “The link between this Psalm (Psalm 49) and the
group of three that precedes it (Psalms 46,47,48) are alike addressed to
all peoples. The latter called upon all mankind to acknowledge God’s
Kingship; this deals with a problem which exercises the mind of all
thinking people and should be read in connection with Psalm 73. Wealth is
unequally distributed; some possess more than their due share and derive
from it the power and authority over the poor.This seemingly unfair
arrangement must be due to Divine ordering; so how is it to be explained?
The solution which the Psalmist puts forward is that the might of wealth is
limited. It cannot ward off death, and at its advent the rich are reduced
to the same level as the poor. If that truism were borne in mind, wealth
would not breed insolent pride; in that thought the poor in their
disability may hope for the ultimate triumph of right. The Psalm 49 has
been appointed for rcital in a Jewish house of mourning.” (Soncino Psalms
and commentary, p.152).
Jesus lived in the spirit of this Psalm and today’s Gospel passage
attests to it. We learn of how he was able to continue the mission God gave
him to preach liberty to captives and hope to the poor. It was the holy
women like those mentioned–Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna who from
their own limited means provided for Jesus and probably for his apostles.
This is the pattern that Jesus expects of us, namely, to help those in need
out of our means. The Franciscans have this poverty of spirit in their
charism learned from St. Francis of Assisi. No wonder they are depicted as
being the fortunate, the happy, the blessed ones who are poor in spirit.
Timothy’s advice about the lust for money and the greed that it
brings is quite appropriate for our own nation. Rugged individualism,
selfishness, and disdain for the marginal and the poor are not values; they
are vices that not only stifle the economy but also create pockets of
ignorance among the young who attracted by the glitz and glamor of such
nonsense. Timothy gives us the antidote to such diseases of mind and
spirit:”integrity, piety, faith, love, steadfastness, and a gentle spirit.”
Timothy together with the Psalmist’s prayers for today are a perfect
interpretation of the first beatitude Jesus gives us. It would be
worthwhile to conclude today by reading the entire Psalm and maybe its
three predecessors as indicated above. We are then called to be blessed for
we may be among the poor in spirit. The Kingdom of Heaven is ours. Amen.