(Editors Note: Embarking on a new tradition in 2022, the friars of Sacred Heart will alternate penning a letter or discussion aimed to help parishioners engage with the readings, the parish, or their outreach initiatives on a weekly basis. This new practice begins with a letter from Fr. Zack Elliott discussing how Jesus asks us to trust in our faith during difficult times.)
- Readings for The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,
As always, our readings for this Sixth Week in Ordinary Time both blesses and challenges us. When things are going well, faith is not difficult. Life’s necessities are taken care of. We may even have more than enough. We live convinced that our life is blessed. What happens when life seems to be just an endless series of hardships? The ease of faith wanes. The Prophet Jeremiah and many of scripture’s major personalities have had their faith sorely tested in the fires of adversity. Jeremiah reminds us of the importance of trusting in God by drawing on three familiar elements of Hebrew poetry. Images drawn from nature, the use of parallels, and the uses of blessings and curses. This weekend’s readings remind us, with the use of rich imagery drawn from nature, that God is still present to a troubled world, and that our trust must be permanent and deep.
There are two ideas that suggest themselves as we reflect on this Sunday’s readings. The first is that the way things are is not necessarily the way they should be. In his own way, Jesus was quite radical in speaking of a reversal of the accepted order. Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” clearly shows that Jesus felt his greatest mission was to the poor and downtrodden. When considering our world in this time, that is a message with important implications for us, his followers.
Secondly, there are moments when our faith falters and our trust wavers. We may wonder about the after-life. At times we may be inclined to doubt whether the poor are any closer to a place at the world’s table than they ever were. To be human is to doubt, yet, through it all we continue to trust. In faith, we take Jesus at his word.
Although we may all be more familiar with Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount,” the Lucan version, “Sermon on the Plain,” also was delivered early in Jesus’ ministry, with newly chosen disciples and large crowds. These two sermons of Jesus present the important basics of the spiritual life of those who choose to follow him. Both sermons lay the groundwork for how we are to be a church. Their messages are timeless, for they speak to Christians today as well as to those in the first century. They lay the groundwork for what it means to be a follower of Christ. We too are a part of the crowd to whom Jesus preached his sermon. May we have the grace to take his words to heart, the courage to lives those words and the trust to follow Jesus, finding richness in our poverty, trusting our faith when hardship comes.
The good news for us today is simple. Nothing in this world can rob us of our peace of mind and interior joy, because our trust is not in this world, nor in humanity. Rather, our trust is in the crucified and risen Christ, the savior and hope of the world. The psalmist summarized this good news for us: “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”
Rooted in Trust,