Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C Revised

Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1Cor. 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17-26

The readings this Sunday remind us that God can only satisfy our spiritual hunger if we radically trust in him. “Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.” That verse from the gospel is the key to understanding the central message of this Sunday.  Let me start with story to illustrate the point. Years ago, a young man drifted away from Church to find happiness as he was just too bored. He winded up in Las Vegas where he bought a lottery ticket on the last day and to his surprise, he had bought the winning ticket, and won the $ 500 million jackpot. He felt he had found happiness. Soon he was so bored of staying in Vegas and thought that happiness was in travelling all over the world. He covered the entire world, but found no happiness. He then thought that happiness was in having the most luxurious boat, cruising around the world but he was so bored and lonely. Next, he married the most beautiful celebrity and bought the most luxurious car in the world. As they drove out day after their wedding, they argued all the way and he was so bored that he wished he had never married. There was no happiness in his marriage. So, he thought that happiness was found in reading all the romance novels in the world and at the end he did not find happiness. His life was empty and yearning for something to fill the void. He went to the community library and there borrowed the Bible and started reading it. As he read the New Testament, he came to the passage of today’s gospel and was struck by the words of Jesus, “Blessed are you who are hungry now for you will be satisfied.” This verse spoke to him and he decided to go back to Church where he was so well received and welcomed that he was filled with the joy of the Gospel. That day his appetite for higher things was satisfied and he wanted more from the Mass and parish events.

I tell this story because the readings this Sunday highlight the paradox of finding true happiness.  The story you just heard sounds familiar. According to the latest Gallop poll of 2018, while about 61% of Catholics in the US did not go to Church weekly for various reasons, why are we (39%) still here, hopeful and engaged? The first reading and the Gospel of this Sunday respond to that question.  Jeremiah in the first reading uses the image of a tree planted beside the waters to explain why the 39% still trust in God and come to Church. They are like the tree planted beside the waters. In spite of drought, they stand firm by the waterside (the Church) and joyfully come to Church to be nourished.

You and I are here today so we may thrust our roots in the Church’s stream of the Sacraments and formation programs. We love our Church and know that outside the Church we can never find the nourishment that satisfies. What seems to satisfy out there is only an illusion and soon evaporates. In the Sermon on the plain, Jesus teaches that happy are those who are hungry now for they will be satisfied. In the logic of the kingdom, happiness is found in the radical trust that leads to emptying ourselves, so that God may satisfy our hunger and thirst.  The message we take home is simple:  the secret key to finding real happiness is found in radical trust that leads to emptying ourselves, so that the Lord may satisfy our hunger. “Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.” (Lk 6:21)

©2019 John S. Mbinda

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