February 14: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1Cor. 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17-26
This Sunday the readings underline deep-rooted trust in God as the key to real joy, peace and happiness as contrasted to the illusion of finding that same joy, peace and happiness outside of God and the Church. According to Gallup Poll and the CARA Catholic Poll, 36% of Catholics in the US went regularly to Mass every Sunday and week days in 2009. That leaves a lot of people, 64%! There are many reasons for their absence. Analysts offer a variety of reasons: - materialism, individualism, secularism, relativism, as well as scandals. People are 'fed up' say the experts. That leaves many unanswered questions to ask. What is it that keeps you and me coming to Church every Sunday? Why are we still hopeful and faithful? Let us look at how Jeremiah and Jesus respond to those questions in the First reading and the Gospel of today. Jeremiah offers us a number of images, but perhaps one that is most significant is the image of a tree planted beside the waters. Actually, it's not a tree but a person, a woman, a man. This tree is an image of the true disciple. In spite of drought and devastation all around, it stands quietly by the waterside, its foliage green, its branches full of fruit. The secret of it's strength lies mysteriously hidden from those who have no eyes for what is good. Jeremiah say that the tree thrusts its roots not on the surface ground, but into the stream. So how do you and I get to be like that tree? 'Where are those waters? Where is that sunny river bank where I can plant myself and grow to mature holiness? I want to be a true and an authentic disciple of Jesus. The answer is found in what we understand by the Church. The Church is the running stream beside which you and I are planted. Jesus saves us in the Church. Outside the Church we can never find true joy, peace and happiness. What seems to be joy out there is only an illusion of true happiness that can only be found in God.
In the Sermon on the Mountain we find the mystery of God's love for the poor and the poor person's childlike trust in God. It was not material poverty that Jesus called blessed, but those who are helpless, without influence in society, the voiceless, those uprooted from their justly acquired land, the jobless, hungry, homeless, who put their total trust in God who cares for them. Happy indeed is the person who trusts in the Lord. In a famous B.B.C Television Documentary focusing on Western Kenya, a journalist asked a very poor mother of 10 children what kept them going in the midst of such poverty and problems of finding both food and school fees for the children. The woman answered that it was the little happiness they enjoyed. As it turned out, this little happiness was a mystery because when pressed by the journalist to explain she said in Swahili language, “hapo nimeshindwa” =I am not able to explain. As I watched the documentary again, it dawned on me that in that happiness there was deep faith and trust in God. It is this happiness that Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on the Mountain. Blessed are they who do not depend on material things for their happiness, but rather put their total trust in God. Three points sum up the message of this Sunday. 1) Trust in the Lord is the secret key to real joy, peace and happiness. 2) The Church is the running stream beside which you and I must remain planted. To stop coming to Church is to uproot ourselves. 3) Those who put their total trust in God are blessed and happy as contrasted to those who put their trust in material things.
©2010 John S. Mbinda