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Heroes of the Faith

How happy are you who are poor: yours is the Kingdom of God"
Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1:1-4,6; I Corinthians 15:12,16-20; Luke 6:17,20-26

Sermon Week Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 6:20

Some of you may be more familiar with the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew than with those in Luke which we have read. Somehow, Matthew's list of eight Beatitudes has received more popular exposure and commentary than Luke's list of four. Most Bible experts agree that Luke's is the more primitive version, somewhat different in emphasis than Matthew's. Luke's "Blest are you poor" refers directly to the materially impoverished. And his "Blest are you who hunger" refers directly to those who don't have enough to eat. Matthew, on the other hand, in blessing the "poor in spirit" and "those who hunger for what is right," has "spiritualized" Luke's version. Yet the lessons of both versions are in basic harmony. We can think of the two versions as separate strings on the same violin, together producing a melodious chord.

A TV series on Alaska gave the viewer a vivid picture of daily life in one of the most isolated villages on the North American continent. It was a village without TV, without supermarkets, without cars, without plumbing and heating, without modern amenities of any kind. It was a village situated in the most rugged environment imaginable. Some would call it "uncivilized." The people were poor. Food, clothing, shelter -- everything they needed for survival -- had to be acquired under the most difficult physical conditions. But, despite the harshness of their environment, the people managed somehow to sustain themselves. As we reflect on today's Gospel Lesson, we begin to understand why these people were blest with an undeniable spirit of contentment, of serenity, of a sense of community. It was because the tough conditions under which they lived kept them close together. The day-to-day struggle for survival taught them lessons of mutual dependence and trusting and sharing that we, in our "civilized" world, might never learn. And, because they were a blest people, a happy people, they were a creative people. As though in celebration of their inner-peace, they skillfully created objects of fantastic beauty from swamp grass and walrus tusks. They were poor in economic terms and poor in [...]

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