Homily – February 14

Every now and then the scriptures give us the opportunity to be able to give a name to the Sunday. We all know this is Valentine’s Day. What every happened to St. Valentine?

Reading the gospel of Luke and the strange beatitudes Jesus teaches we could call this Sunday – ‘think again Sunday.’ Jesus is telling us that if we think we’ve got our act together and are guided by ideas such as self sufficiency, me-first rugged individualism, financial independence, then we’ve got it all wrong. This short gospel challenges our value systems, it asks us to question, take another look at what we consider to be important for living a full and happy life. Jesus asks us not to trust in the trinkets of life, those baubles that promise us health and wealth and security.

One author translated the phrase ‘blessed are the poor’ to ‘Oh the blessedness of those who are poor, who know what it like to be poor, helpless, dependent on others, for they can reach out to others, they can understand men and women who are in need, they can sympathize with the street person, the family on welfare, the man or woman out of work. Oh the blessedness of those who know what it is like to be powerless, who know what it is like to dependent on the good or sour mood of a boss or supervisor for they can relate to the poor who are at the mercy of busy bureaucrats to get the very basics for living or housing or find fairness is the workplace.

We can go on: oh the blessedness of those hunger not just for food but for justice. They can sympathize with those countless men, women and children who hunger for justice and fairness in their lives. Oh the blessedness of those who are aware of the exploitation of men, women and children who labor in sweat shops or are the victims of sexual exploitation. They are able to understand the struggles of the working poor, people who hardly make enough money to live on.

Oh the blessedness of those weep and mourn, who know what it is like to loose someone or something that is dear and important to them for they can reach out and support those who mourn the death of one they love, they can walk with men and women who grieve over the loss of their health, their mobility, their independence and help them see other possibilities in their lives.

Oh the blessedness of those who know what it is like to be prejudged, excluded, dismissed, written off because of the color of their skin or the strangeness of their accent or their birthplace for they will have the courage to stand with those young people who are victims of racial profiling, they will open their lives to support new Canadians and help feel at home in their new land, they will have the guts to challenge prejudice and bigotry whenever it is voiced.

Oh the blessedness of those who know what it is like.

There is a story told of an old Polish Rabbi who went into the local tavern. Two peasants were deep in their cups and were getting quite maudlin as they expressed their love for each other. Suddenly one says to the other, ‘tell me what hurts me’ and his friend answers, ‘how should I know what hurts you?’ His friends replied, ‘if you don’t know what hurts me how can you say you love me?’

Oh the blessedness of those who know what hurts another and is willing to reach out and be with that person – for surely their reward will be great in heaven. The promise of Christ is true, ‘as often as you did these things to one of these brother and sisters of mine; you did it to me,’