1 Corinthians 15: 12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
By Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S.
You ask your neighbor to look out for your house while you are out of town. Or maybe the same neighbor or friend drives you to a physician’s appointment. This is a good thing. I would wager that God is going to back these kinds of things. In this Sunday’s reading, Jeremiah is not suggesting that we should stop depending upon each other. He is reminding the Israelites not to be lured into the charms of other nations which are traps. Israel had made poor decisions by trusting the Egyptian and Assyrian kingdoms, and paid for it. (See Jeremiah 2:36–37). When Israel was going through hard times, it sold out to the Egyptians and Assyrians. Israel did not go all of the way with the plan that God had for them.
Paul is responding to a doctrinal issue of whether we are required to believe in the resurrection. For Paul (and the rest of us) Jesus rose from the dead. It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus’ wisdom. It is not enough to simply “love one another,” or some other well-meaning cliché. We have to go all of the way. Jesus is more than a prophet who gave fabulous moral instructions. Jesus is the Son of God. If he is not, Christianity as we know it would have gone to the graveyard of many different religions and ideologies that promote social justice, peaceful coexistence, reconciliation, etc. For Paul, if Christianity did not go all of the way, it would end up in that graveyard. As well, our very selves would conclude in a graveyard.
In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus really lays down a gauntlet. If we really want true happiness, then we have to depend upon God. Jesus is not simply assuring the gathered that their treasures are stored in heaven. He assures us that when we depend upon God, the hungry are going to be fed, the oppressed are going to be freed. God already knows we are prone to depending upon possessions to give us false comfort, and walls to give us false security. Jesus already knew us in that we have a tendency to let our possessions possess us and rob us of true freedom. Walls will never give us the security we desire. We will only utilize more extreme ways to provide the security that is out of our grasp. On August 13, 1961, some Germans built a wall around their own part of Berlin in order to keep out different Germans and others deemed “undesirable.” On November 9, 1989, we all know what happened to that wall. We cannot depend upon possessions, walls, etc. for comfort and security. We must go all of the way.
This Sunday, as we gather and celebrate Eucharist, let us remember that Jesus went all of the way for us. Jesus did not ask that we put ourselves up on the cross with him. Jesus through the Sermon on the Plain asks us to go all of the way. Depend upon God, go past our creature comforts and securities and find the peace and freedom that God promises us.
Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S., is a hospital chaplain in Northwest Indiana. He is also the associate director of Companions (lay associates) of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.