Year C Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany February 11th, 2001
Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church
Web page http://lordofthelake.org
By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor
Heavenly Father thank you for blessing us when we, aware of our needs, look to you alone for help. Amen.
Title: “Blessings and Woes”
Luke 6: 17-26
Jesus delivers a sermon that is parallel in many ways to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, but here on “level ground,” in which he paints two kinds of characters: one “blessed” and the other “cursed,” depending upon a person’s present conduct and attitudes.
Luke, in all likelihood has a copy of Mark in front of him and incorporates much, about sixty percent, of Mark into his work. He also depends on a source he shares in common with Matthew, called “Q” by scholars. To these sources he adds special material unique to his work, called “L” by scholars, and blends it all into his own unique style and favorite themes, concern for the poor, the marginal, women, and outcasts. This text contains four “beatitudes” and four corresponding or more correctly, contrasting “woes.” These same beatitudes are found in modified and expanded form in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Matthew’s sermon is more structured and longer. Luke’s is more rambling, but shorter, occurring within what is called the “little interpolation.” Luke interrupts his copying of Mark by inserting this “interpolation” now found in Luke 6:20 to Luke 8:3.
Luke’s sermon is addressed to two groups: disciples, especially those suffering because they are such; and would-be disciples. Jesus, in typical Wisdom fashion, divides the human race into two groups: the happy and the unhappy. He rejects what the world admires- wealth, popularity and comfort and praises what the world would consider pitiable- poverty, sorrow, persecution. The beatitudes and woes are not really blessings and curses so much as insights into the true human condition in the eyes of God and eternity. One’s present conduct and attitudes reveal to which group one belongs.
In verses seventeen to twenty we have the introduction to the sermon on the plain, however, in verse twenty, “blessed”: The Greek for “blessed,” is a word for divine bliss, that is, the quality of life the gods or God enjoy or enjoys.
It is a bliss unaffected by circumstances. It is attitudinal, rather than emotional or circumstantial. It is the result of right or Godlike attitudes, not pleasant surroundings or luxuries.
Poor: Jesus is not blessing economic poverty or raising one social class above another. Matthew spiritualizes the word by saying “poor in spirit” in order to make the point more clear. “Poor” was a religious term for “pious,” meaning those who depend absolutely on God, which everyone does, and know it. It is the opposite of “rich” which means, in this context, “self-sufficient.” Luke does not qualify it because he apparently considers the economically poor to be more likely to also be spiritually “poor” or “rich,” if you prefer, than the economically rich. This appears to be Jesus’ position as well.