Luke 6:17, 20-26
Why Trust in the Lord? by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.

Jesus came down with the Twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.  And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:

"Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!  Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.  For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way."

The prophet Jeremiah exhorts us to trust in the Lord.  He says that those who trust in human beings and who seek strength in the flesh are like a barren bush in the desert.  In contrast, he says, "Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.  He is like a tree planted beside the waters."

Why should we place our trust in the Lord?

On one level, it only makes sense.  We depend upon God for our very existence.  God created us and holds us in existence at every moment of our lives.  So, we would not exist if it were not for His creative love, as well as His desire to enter into a personal relationship with each of us.  This means that every one of us is the fruit of an intentional act of God who had an idea of us in His mind from long before He gave us physical life.  God made us unique, with our own set of gifts and talents and our own personality, so that we could both be in relation to Him and reflect His divine image in this world.  So, we should trust in the Lord because He created us in love.

In addition to blessing us with life and offering us the opportunity to engage Him in a relationship marked by intimacy and friendship, God redeems us from sin and death in Christ.  In a powerful demonstration of a lack of gratitude to almighty God for blessing us so abundantly, everyone of us have used our God-given freedom to turn our backs on Him, to shun Him and resort to our selfish and sinful ways.  We have said "No?" to our heavenly Father, refused to follow the path marked out for us, and deeply hurt Him and others close to us.

Consequently, "God has added to the extraordinary goodness of His creative love by showering upon us an even greater blessing, the love which manifests itself as mercy and which brings about reconciliation with Him.  "For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life."  We human beings participated in the act of putting His only-begotten Son to death on a cross by our own personal sins.  Then, God used that hideous act to bring about our redemption.  His goodness, patience and love are beyond our comprehension.

It is the gift of faith in God, the awareness of God's creative and redemptive love - extended to us as individuals - that leads to trusting in Him and not in the things of this world.  The love of God is so real, so powerful and so generous that it transforms our lives.  It heals us from sin, from a lack of meaning and direction and from desperation in the face of life's trials.  It brings us life, restores hope and makes us strong in the fact of suffering.  God becomes a stream of life-giving water in our lives constantly refreshing us and cleansing us.  "He (who trusts in the Lord) is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit."

This life of faith, this opportunity to really trust in the Lord is what Jesus is describing when He says that the poor are blessed in this week's Gospel: Blessed are the poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.  It contrasts with putting our trust completely in ourselves, in others or in the things of this world, like money or prestige.  Our consumerist culture works very hard every day to convince us that we will find our happiness in the pleasures that luxuries provide such as nicer cars, larger houses and fancier vacation.  Putting our trust entirely in these material things or even in people and not God always leaves us empty, unfulfilled and often hurt.  No one can take the place that God must have in our lives.

Our Christian faith teaches us that true and lasting joy comes from living in a close union with God, allowing Him to take away our stony hearts and replace them with natural hearts, and learning to love others as He has loved us.  It invites us to place all our trust in God, not in the things of this world.

Heavenly Father, pour anew the Holy Spirit into my heart.  Stir up in me a profound awareness of your creative and redemptive love.  Help me to become poor in spirit, aware that You are the source of my greatest riches.  May I learn to turn to You, the found of life, love and meaning, in all of my needs.

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