Luke’s treatment of the Beatitudes is a little different than Matthew’s. While Matthew lists the blessings, it is only Luke who lists the woes. Whether we are looking at the blessings or the woes, it is clear that God’s wisdom is different than ours. How many of us would choose to accept hunger, grief, hatred and insult? How many of us would turn down wealth, plenty, laughter and good feelings? Yet the Lord makes it clear to us that what we choose may not ultimately be what we get.
It’s kind of like my grandmother used to say, when we were playing and laughing a lot, “that laughing is going to turn into crying.” Usually, she was right. And that’s true of all of our lives. Time has a way of changing our circumstances and life comes with its ebbs and flows. But what Jesus is worried about here is a little more serious than that. He is concerned about those who make comfort and good feelings and wealth their number one priority, those who are addicted to these things. If this is what becomes our god, then what use have we for God our maker?
Today’s Gospel is a call to get it right. To put our priorities in order. It’s not just about us; we have to take up the cross and follow Christ. That might indeed mean some hardship, some hunger, grief, hatred and insult. We might have to put aside the wealth, plenty, laughter and good feelings for a time. As St. Paul says in our first reading, “the world in its present form is passing away.” We are not home yet; we are mere travelers on this earth. And so the sufferings of this present time are but temporary. Our real reward is in heaven, and we pray that we don’t miss it by striving here on earth for all the wrong things.