(6th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26)
All the readings, including the Psalm, contain a sort of ultimatum. Place your trust in God and you will thrive; if not, you will wither. Unless you love God’s law, you will be blown away like chaff. The only way to be sure of our salvation is to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Woe to you if you are rich, filled, laughing and well spoken of.
In the message of La Salette, either we refuse to submit or we are converted.
The Gospel passage stands out from the rest, however, because it does not contain the element of choice that they imply. The urgent option is not whether to be rich or poor.
The beatitudes in Matthew are better remembered and, we might say, generally preferred to those we read today. Luke’s version is blunt, even troubling. Is it really better to be poor than rich?
The issue is not a moral one, as though the poor were good and the rich were wicked. There are passages in both the Old and New Testaments that seem to equate wealth and evil, but these highlight the danger of riches: greed, selfishness, injustice. At this point in Luke’s Gospel, however, that is not the issue. It has to do with the right perception of blessedness.
The Beautiful Lady understood the fear of her people, faced with the prospect of having no bread to eat. Like Jeremiah she urges us to put our trust not in ourselves but in God, by honoring the Lord’s Day.
The first reaction to an ultimatum is to reject it. The prophets would surely have preferred other ways to persuade their listeners. Heaven knows they tried; but still the people of God seemed determine to follow a path to destruction.
Children who are not growing as they should, and adults who are in an abnormal state of decline require special care. We can apply this concept also to the spiritual life.
Either we thrive or we do not. The goal of the prophet, the psalmist, St. Paul, Jesus and Our Lady of La Salette is to provide whatever we need for our spiritual well-being. In other words, to paraphrase a text from John 10:10, they all want us to “have life and have it more abundantly.”