Luke 6:17-26 (NRSV)
Verse 17He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. Verse 18They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. Verse 19And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Verse 20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Verse 21"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Verse 22"Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Verse 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. Verse 24"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Verse 25"Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Verse 26"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Jesus’ “Woe to you” is surely directed at me. By all worldly standards, I am rich, full, and well-spoken of. As I listen to Christ and experience God’s love for all, I begin to realize that to be rich at the expense of and apart from others is indeed a curse. To be rich while others are poor is to not live in the promise of Beloved Community. The consolation of self-contained riches is real but very limited, shallow, hurtful, and fleeting.
The pandemic has taught us that we cannot live in locked communities from others and be well. We are all in this together. We all live in the abode of God’s love and grace. Our response to the “Woe” is not paralyzing guilt, but receiving the gift of being put on a new path. What a great adventure of grace to discover ways we can live in the promise of sharing God’s abundance even in our shared suffering.
O God my dwelling place, you have chosen us to live in the blessing of Beloved Community. Turn us away from complacency and toward a life of shared gifts and resources. Amen.