Scripture: Lectionary 439. Sept.11, Colossians 3:1-11; Psalm 145:2-3,10-11, 12-13. Luke 6:20-26:
The theme of centering on Christ continues in Paul’s letter to the Colossians while Luke narrates the parallel to Matthew’ Sermon on the Mount. Luke has Jesus giving the beatitudes on the plain while Matthew has it on a mountain slope with Jesus seated as a teacher of Israel.
“Christ is everything in all of us.” Paul wants the believers to see themselves as a new creation by becoming like Jesus in word, actions, and behaviors. He recalls that all of us are made in the image and likeness of God—which we have learned from chapter one of Genesis 1:27. To become more and more like Christ we need to strip ourselves of the “old man” or “old woman” that we may have been through our sins. These are to be stripped from ourselves similar to the ritual of a bar mitzvah or a bat mitzvah. Our hearts have to be focused on the higher realms and on the kingdom of God here on earth. We are summoned to this in our liturgical celebration in the Preface of the Mass when we hear the celebrant say, “Lift up your hearts.” Our reply should mean that we really want to do this when we say, “We have lifted them up to the Lord.”
Luke spells out the good actions and behaviors we should have through Jesus’ sermon on the plain. There are only four beatitudes in Luke accompanied by four woes if we do not live the beatitudes. Matthew has seven or eight beatitudes depending on how you interpret the sayings in Matthew 5:1-11. Jesus tells us in Luke’s version to be poor, hungry, mournful, and accepting of the witness of persecution. The beatitudes are to be compared and lived out in both versions of the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. We learn from the woes what sins to exorcise from our inner self and what to enjoy and be happy about in the four beatitudes common to Matthew and Luke.
Both readings for today summon us to live upright and holy lives. We are reminded of the universal call to holiness for all of the people of God through the Vatican II document on the Constitution of the Church. One of the most beautiful parallels to all of these is the following from the letter to the Ephesians :”Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…until all of us come to … maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15,13, R.S.V.) Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.