Friday, February 12, 2010

Blessings and Curses

Sixth Ordinary Sunday Year C

“Blessings and Curses” – this is the main theme for today’s readings. Everyone desires blessings. No one wants to be cursed. A blessing is supposed to be something that is for our good. A curse, on the other hand, is something evil wished upon us. A blessing usually brings joy whereas a curse is a cause for sorrow. So far the difference between blessings and curses seem simple enough. But the truth of the matter is that we often mistake a blessing for a curse and a curse for a blessing. We make this mistake because we have a narrow understanding of God and his plan for us. We often interpreted our will as the will of God. We may conclude that when we get what we want from God that should be blessing. It is when our request is refused and rejected by God that we often see as curse. This kind of reasoning is simplistic. In fact, it is this kind of reasoning that underlies superstitious beliefs.

Today, we are reminded by the readings that God is the point of reference. It is God who decides whether something is a blessing or a curse. Our limited knowledge and human limitations prevent us from truly appreciating what is a blessing from God and what constitutes a curse. A blessing in the eyes of God often comes in the disguise of a curse in the eyes of men. The gospel gives Luke’s account of the Beatitudes. Luke’s version is different from the 8 beatitudes that we are often familiar with in Matthew’s gospel. Luke lists down 4 beatitudes and 4 woes (curses). Jesus tells his disciples that happy are those who are poor, the hungry, those who weep and those who are hated and abused on account of him. To the non-Christian, all these categories seem be examples of people who have been cursed. How can a curse be seen as a blessing?

The first reading taken from the prophet Jeremiah may help us to understand the meaning of these beatitudes. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that “a blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope.” On the other hand, “a curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord.” The poor, the hungry, the grieving, and those who are persecuted for the sake of the Lord are people who put their trust in the Lord. They have no other forms of security. They cannot rely on their wealth for they have none. They cannot rely on food, possessions or even the comfort of friends and loved ones, for these too will disappear one day. They cannot rely on popularity because we are never in control of how people feel about us. Some days, we are liked by others. Other days, we are hated and despised. If we place our trust in our wealth, in power and in popularity, then we have cursed ourselves. God does not want to curse us. We have chosen to curse ourselves. We have placed our trusts on things that do not last. We have placed our trusts on things that we cannot bring with us to the next life. We have placed our trusts on things and made them our gods. We have forgotten to place our trust in God who alone can save us.

Being poor is not something which should be praised. In fact, the poor remind us that the wealth of our country is not properly distributed. There is something wrong and unjust if 80% of the wealth of the world is owned by just less than 20% of the population. It is a sign of selfishness and exploitation. Likewise, being rich is not something which is evil. There are many good people who are rich. But sometimes, wealth, power and popularity make us forget about God and others. What we need to remember here is that everyone has the duty to share their wealth with one another so that there will be no one who is lacking in anything. We must also learn to place our trust in God and not on our possessions and capabilities.

Let us pray in today’s mass that we will recognize the blessings which God intends for us. We may not get what we had prayed for. We may not be rich or beautiful or talented. All these are nothing when compared to God’s love for us. God always intend for our ultimate good. He gives us what we need and not what we merely want.

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