Wednesday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time
I have a friend who used to be a very career-oriented person – and had great successes in his field – until his career took a nosedive. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he lost his job and he could not take any decent job for a long time.
Just recently I received an email from him – sharing his thoughts. According to him, after a long and painful process, he now realizes that what happened to him is a blessing in disguise. His situation taught him important lessons about faith; it led him to trust more in God’s providence. And also, since for a long time he had no job, he found time to serve in his parish community – and he is genuinely happy about it.
We often hear the expression “a blessing in disguise.” Something happens which at first seems to be unlucky, unfortunate, unfavorable, or even plainly disastrous; and yet after a while, we discover that the so-called disaster has beneficial consequences – some blessings. So much so that what seemed a curse is really a blessing, a blessing disguised under the appearance of misfortune.
Jesus in today’s gospel is telling us that poverty is really a blessing in disguise. But of course, Jesus is not speaking of destitution (pagkasalat, pagdarahop) or of a complete lack of the basic necessities in life. He is not idealizing or romanticizing the situations of the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the persecuted. He is not also recommending extreme poverty and hunger for us; he is not encouraging us to find reasons for us to weep or to create causes for us to be insulted and maltreated. On the contrary, as pointed out by Nil Guillemette, Jesus considers such states or conditions as degrading for the human person, something that must be eliminated at all cost.
“Blessed are you who are poor… But woe to you who are rich.” How are we going to understand “strange teaching” of Jesus? The key to the right interpretation of Luke’s version of the Beatitudes hinges on our understanding of the concept of detachment. What this means is “a detachment from all the goods of the world that are less than God.” (Robert Barron) Jesus considers those who are detached from the things of the earth – wealth, power, prestige, and pleasure – to be blessed.
Let us make sure that we belong to the blessed in the eyes of God. Blessed because in our being poor God is our wealth…in our being hungry God is our food…in our weeping God is our laughter…in our being hated, excluded, and insulted God is our blessing.