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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 6:17, 20-26

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 grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

REFLECTION: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours."

Many times growing up I imagined what life would be like if I could buy the things that I always wanted . My success was contingent on what I was able to get compared to that which I did not have growing up. A new car, a spacious home, yearly vacations, buy when the whim hit me were the things that attracted me as I was preparing for my future. God was compartmentalized to the Sunday events and family gatherings, but the rest of the time, I found myself wanting to do what all the successful people did. And for many years, I lost touch with God because I was so busy with the material world. And God let me have my way.....Who wanted to embrace a life of poverty when there was so much to be gotten? This spilled over to not just a a life of luxury but a reckless avoidance of God's love and mercy.

The joy of life I was seeking was not the joy that God was waiting to give me. If I wanted His joy, I had to empty myself of all that would shut God out. I had to make room for God in my heart and I had to allow myself to just "let go". I had to forget myself and my needs and see to the needs of others. I had to be humble and seek God to fill the emptiness of my life. I had to quit being greedy, quit being proud, quit denying that which also belonged to others . I had to be forgiving , and above all had to be loving and kind. These were all virtues that God had been reminding me of over and over, but because I only spoke with Him on Sundays and holidays and family gatherings, I could not listen. I had to be poor in spirit before I was able to grasp God's joy.

This weekend I met Victor. Victor lives in the streets by the University of Houston campus. He was so full of joy and when we asked him to lead us in prayer, what a powerful and moving praise and worship he gave. We never question how people got to where they are . I don't know Victor's past, nor do I need to know. He was so appreciative of the lovely people who would go out of their way and drive back to where he was to give him food or clothing or sometimes money. He commented how hard it was for him, to see some people avoid looking at him when they stopped at the red light, or how they pretended that he was not there. He never saw himself as someone who should be avoided. And as we were leaving, he praised the Lord more and quoted Proverbs 22:2 - " Rich and poor have a common bond: the Lord is the maker of them all."

God Bless

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