Daily Reflection
September 13th, 2000
Kathy Kanavy
Institute for Priestly Formation
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Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor - Memorial 
First Corinthians 7:25-31
Psalms 45:11-12, 14-17
Luke 6:20-26

Luke’s Gospel today recounts a portion of Jesus’ Sermon of the Mount, setting the beatitudes before us as “the path of life” to follow.  

“Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said, ‘Blest are your poor; the reign of God is yours.  Blest are you who hunger; you shall be filled.  Blest are you who are weeping; you shall laugh.  Blest shall you be when men hate you, when they ostracize you…rejoice and exult, for your reward shall be great in heaven.  But woe to you rich, for your consolation is now.  Woe to you who are full; you shall go hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now; you shall weep in your grief.  Woe to you when all speak well of you.  Their fathers treated the false prophets in just this way.”

We have heard these words so many times that we can become numb to their meaning.  Depending on where we find ourselves today, we may feel mixtures within us as to how these words touch our hearts.  Perhaps they are comforting, perhaps confusing or disturbing.  What is Jesus saying to us today?   I’d like to suggest that we listen to these words through the heart of “The Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux.

Therese knows that “God is nothing but Mercy and Love.” The poverty and innocence of her own heart knows “that the very nature of God’s Love is to be merciful.  The furthest thing from Him is the desire to punish anyone, to cause suffering.  He is all tenderness and compassion.  Furthermore, for Therese, it was the nature of God’s Love that His Mercy cannot be purchased.  He must give it freely….  We pull the love right out of His Heart.  He bends low over our weakness with a love that is full of tenderness, as parents bend over their child in the cradle.  He does not hate us for our sins.  It is the sins He hates for the harm they do to us and to others.  They deface the beauty in us, and He longs to destroy them in the fire of mercy that burns in His Heart…. The only ‘payment’ God asks from us is that we seek His merciful love with confidence.  This was her battle cry—confidence, nothing but confidence, leading us to love.”   

From this understanding, I invite you to reread the words of the Gospel today.  What do you hear?

Jesus places before us the fullness of life that we all desire; here lies the “blueprint” for happiness. So, how do we live this out?  Ironically the answer is that we grow strong in Him as we permit ourselves to be “poor” with Him.  As we admit that we are poor, and that we have nothing without Him, He can fill us with deep love.  As we reject being strong, being in control, and having all the answers, then He can be our strength, our life and provide everything.  The path of life is one where Jesus asks us to stop relying on ourselves and to let ourselves be a child before God.  Here we do experience Him as nothing but Love and Mercy.  This is so contrary to what the culture all around us says.  But Therese speaks great wisdom to us:  God is full of tenderness, eager to embrace us, to forgive us, to make straight the path we walk, and to scoop us into His arms with utter love.  If only we let Him! 

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