Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
"How happy are you who are poor. Alas for you who are rich."
The Word This Week
Life is often about picking our way through opposites - choices and decisions that surround every moment of every day: should I do this or that, choose this way or that way, and so on. Just as there are choices on either side, so there are opposing consequences blessings and curses, in the language of the first reading, happiness and woe in the language of the Gospel. In Saint Luke's version of the Beatitudes, we see Jesus setting out very clearly the teaching that life is about choices, and that we must take control, and be responsible for the life we choose, or even the conditions of life that we embrace or accept.
Notes for Readers
Throughout the history of Judaism and Christianity there has been an emphasis on the "two ways": a choice of ways of life, one leading to blessing, the other to misery. This reading presents the" two ways" with great clarity. The basic distinction is in where we put our trust: man or God. This is followed by an image or picture which tries to illustrate the consequences of either choice. The reader should pause between paragraphs, to allow the contrast to come our clearly. Similarly, pause after the first sentence in each half: this sentence announces the two "choices" - trust in God or trust in man. Then each half paints a poetic picture of the results. Your voice should fall away when painting the rather gloomy picture of the man who only depends upon what he can see, so that the final word, "uninhabited", carries with it a sadness of life wasted. Then brighten the tone for the second paragraph, with its picture of green trees and abundant fruit.
Last week Paul emphasised the fact of the resurrection of Jesus and his appearances to the disciples. This week he focuses on the meaning of that faith: Jesus resurrection is our own hope of rising from the dead. This is still a central doctrine for us today, so take special care with the proclamation of the reading. Be careful with the first line - it is almost as though the sentence is the wrong way round: practise this out loud, until you are sure you have got the meaning across. The rest is clearly argued - just be careful not to hurry through Paul's logic. Save something for the affirmation in the final paragraph - pausing before it for emphasis.
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