by Fr Christopher Maseko
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus preached the sermon of blessings and woes. Those who suffer now for Christ’s sake would be blessed, but those who rejoice now, shall suffer in the life to come. The opposite of a blessing is a curse. The very word frightens us, and hardly dare speak of it. We are deeply afraid of a curse, and we wish only to receive a blessing. But who is the kind of a person who deserves a blessing? And who is the kind of a person who deserves a curse: “A curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord.” On the other hand, “a blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside, that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green, it has no worries in a year of draught and never ceases to bear fruit.”
The disciples of Jesus had left everything and followed Him. A life with Jesus is a life fraught with material deprivations and physical inconveniences. As the Son of Man had no place to lay down His head, so will the disciples share in His homelessness. Those who impoverish themselves for Christ’s sake would be enriched by Him later. Being employed for the Lord in His vineyard, there may be times when they will have to go hungry, but in the world to come they shall neither be hungry nor thirsty. They will be fed by the Lord, as He fed the Israelites for forty years when they were in the desert.
Those who cry and shed tears because they suffer pain for Christ’s sake or because of their sins, would have their tears wiped away by God. Their tears are a preparation for the heavenly joy. Our Lord was very candid with His followers. He did not falsely promise a jolly life, as the false prophets do, but frankly said that they would be despised for being His followers.
Jesus, however, pronounced terrible woes against the rich sinners who lavish and pamper themselves with all the enjoyments their wealth could offer. The rich are not the ones with wealth, but those who use them selfishly. The best illustration is the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Those who are full and have their bellies fed with treasures of the world, will be stripped off in the world to come.
To be happy in such scenes, it is necessary to be sober, humble and pious in earthly life. Then we need not weep in the day of calamity; then there will be no terror in death, then there will be nothing to fear in the grave. Those of us in positions of authority can seek ways of serving those who are accustomed to serving us. Every day is truly an opportunity to justice and freedom.
Nothing in this world lives for itself but to render service to others as in the case of a river, fruit tree and most all human beings. It is amazing that living in simplicity gives true contentment. We go as we come in this world. In the end, nothing is ours to keep. So let us share what we have; smiles, hugs, good works, time, friendship and love. Love more, hate less, ignore critics and enjoy life. Life is so short and too precious to waste it on worries. The heart that loves is always healthy. The heart that serves is always happy. The heart that cares is always strong. The most useful asset of a person is a beautiful heart, full of love with ears open to listen and hands willing to help that can bring things into your life that all the money in the world couldn’t obtain. Lord give us the courage to make hard decisions about our lifestyle and the compassion to embrace those who are hurting in our families and community. Amen.