It is near the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He has just selected his 12 apostles, plus a great number of disciples are also with him. In addition a large number of people from various areas have heard Jesus or heard about his teaching and his miracles as well.
His apostles and disciples have left everything to follow him. These blessings must have offered them hope and encouragement. His words also would have been consoling to the crowd that had gathered.
Ninety percent of the population at that time was poor or very poor. Artisans were a little better off than those who lost their land because of draughts or other bad weather conditions.
All who heard Jesus that day left pondering his message. Who values being poor or looks lovingly at beggars seeking a few coins so they can eat something today? When you are down and out laughter doesn’t come readily. Who wants to be hated or picked on? What is this Jesus doing?
The woes certainly aren’t popular to those who are better off or wealthy. They’ve worked hard for what they have so why can’t they enjoy their achievements and accumulations? What’s wrong with spending your wealth on good food and rich wines? Why isn’t it okay to be thought well of when I make something of myself?
What is Jesus really getting at? The poor, the hungry, the sorrowful are the ones who really need Jesus/God. They have learned to depend on and seek God’s help in their distress. The rich are more likely to feel they can handle things on their own. They didn’t show up thinking they could be filled and certainly weren’t expecting to be challenged.
Jesus wasn’t condemning them but offering them a chance to change. What he offers us is far more than a temporary satisfaction by earthly goods. He loves us too much to let us miss the mark of our existence.
Like those people who came to check Jesus out in the first century, we too need to ask ourselves questions: Why am I at Mass today? Do I need to be fed? Am I keeping Jesus at arm’s length in any areas of my life? What is God calling me to do?
“Lord, help me to be humble at this very moment. Let your words, ‘Blessed are you’ be true of me.” Amen!
Peace, Sr. Pat