Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

 

Sunday 17th February 2019
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 17: 5-8     1 Corinthians 15: 12, 16-20     Luke 6: 17, 20-26

Finding the Balance.

Many religious groups claim to believe in the Bible. They take the words of scripture as their benchmark. So when they knock on your door they ask whether or not you read the Bible and if you accept it. When they stand on street corners on Saturday afternoons they display placards quoting biblical texts. And these quotations are considered to be proofs of what the street evangelists are teaching.

The problems arise when we come to deciding just exactly what the words of the Bible mean. Different ways of interpreting the Bible soon become apparent. And that’s where the rub is. Take, for example, today’s Gospel words as Jesus teaches the crowd: “Happy are you who are poor” and “Alas for you who are rich”. What does this mean? Do we treat it literally and say that only people who live in material poverty can be truly happy? Are all rich people in for a shock? Or do we interpret it to mean that a spiritual poverty is what Jesus is really talking about?

The type of poverty which crushes people, prevents them from having access to the ordinary means of existence cannot be favoured by Christ. His whole message was about living a full life. Those social conditions which marginalise people and keep them from being part of mainstream society cannot be what Christ had in mind. His message is about releasing people and restoring them to their true dignity.

And since poverty is a relative thing and is conditioned partly by the part of the globe we happen to have been born in, he must have had something deeper in mind. Am I exercising poverty if I do without my gin and tonic while others die of hunger? Or do I have to give everything away? Am I living the Gospel precept of poverty if I become detached from whatever keeps me from serving God? Should I start to worry if I find that I seem to have landed on my feet? What does it mean to be poor? How poor am I and should I be happy about it?

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2019