St. John Chrysostom
Psalm 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13ab
Today’s passage from the letter to the Colossians is addressed to new converts to the Way of Christ. In anticipation of the fullness of life in Him they are told that they must let go of all of the behaviors that interfere with their relationship with Christ and others. In Christ we are all one! None is more redeemed than another! Here there is not Greek and Jew, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. Together we can exult: Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord, and let your faithful ones bless you.
Today’s Gospel likewise tells us: Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. We are not blessed because we are poor! Poverty in itself is not a blessing. Rather, we are blessed when we are hungry, weeping, hated because of our insistence on following the way of Christ. When our commitment to Christ leads us to live in a way which contrasts with the self-centered materialism of our culture; when we respond to calls for justice for others; when we grieve for others who are being abandoned, imprisoned, radically excluded, or prejudicially deported and we ourselves become denounced, excluded and insulted then we can rejoice and leap for joy… because (our) reward will be great in heaven!
If we are so caught up in our own pleasures, possessions, entertainments, influence, ease, etc. that we fail to notice and respond to the plight of the less advantaged a day will come when we will have to account for our part in the oppression and neglect of God’s beloved.
Taking a position on behalf of the oppressed is not primarily a political stance. Taken in the name of Christ, as a response to his example and teachings, it is a solemn expression of our belief that Jesus came for all, and especially for the oppressed and that we are, in fact, our brother’s keepers. (see Genesis 4:9b).
Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “ThePassionist Spiritual Center in New York City”, www.bishopmolloy.org