17 February 2019 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Blessing or Curse?
It’s pretty normal after a funeral for a family to gather and chat about their growing up. In my experience, it’s usually done with good humour especially when accusations/claims are made about which was the deceased’s “favourite.” One of my most beautiful moments as the youngest of 7 was (with whatever teenage angst I was going through) to be told by my parent that yes- I was very much longed for when I was born. For me that has always been a blessing, and a cause of inner happiness. I have also seen the painful opposite when adult children relate how they were rejected by their parent, it could be in neglect or physical or sexual abuse by a relative or something painful said. The wounds are many.
I suppose family can be blessing and curse- which seems diametrically opposite but it does happen. In today’s Gospel, Jesus carefully constructs four parallel blessings or Curses or “happy” and “alas” to use the words of the Gospel exactly. They are the opposite of what we would anticipate. For he says:
Happy are the poor…but woe (“alas” it says) to the rich.
Happy are the hungry…but woe to those who are full.
Happy are the weeping…but woe to those that are laughing.
Happy are the rejected…but woe to those who are accepted.
What’s interesting about it is that you’re not told/encouraged to act in a particular way to earn the Blessing/Curse.. or warned of consequences if we don’t. Jesus is just pronouncing the facts as it is with no suggestions or dire warning. He shows how life is both inside and outside God’s kingdom.
We seek many things, in fact we’re always searching. They tell of a very poor man in a village who had a strange dream that in a far off city lay treasure under a bridge. He made his way there and found the bridge of his dreams, started searching and attracted the attention of a watchman. So he told him the story- the watchman laughed at him and said he too had a dream of a peasant in a village who had treasure under his stove. But such a thing was so laughable, the watchman declared – it couldn’t’ be true. So the poor man set off home, empty handed, dug under his stove and found the treasure.
Sometimes the greatest of things, like God’s kingdom is right under your nose, if you have the heart and the humility to receive them.