You know when you read the four Gospels it becomes clear that they are not copies of each other.
If they were why would we need four?
God inspired the four evangelists to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus,
His death and resurrection,
and then to convey the meaning of these saving events to their communities,
the people they cared about,
the people they loved.
The evangelists were four people inspired by God with different perspectives, and different experiences.
They meditated on the same profound mysteries, and wrote to different audiences with different needs.
It’s as if you and I see the same event and when we recount it we accent different things in different way.
Our stories would be both the same and different because of our own background and the needs of the people we were talking to.
Today we see this very clearly, Luke’s version of the beatitudes is different from the other Gospels.
There are common passages but then Luke makes a special effort to warn the rich, those who are satified,
those who laugh,
and those of whom everyone speaks well.
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”
He probably feels compelled to do this because he loves the rich and sees where they are headed.
It is also clear from his Gospel that Luke has a special concern for the poor.
Over and over again in Luke’s writings we hear about the special place the poor have in God’s heart.
Remember the Magnificat where he wrote,
“The hungry he will fill with good
or remember when Luke recounted Jesus’ homecoming in Nazareth
In Luke’s account ,
Jesus begins.with a quote from the Prophet Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.”
And in today’s Gospel Luke writes
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.”
Frequently Luke makes the effort to warn the rich of their peril. Here are some examples
Once again in the Magnificat we read
“The Rich he sent away empty”
The story of the rich man in the parable of Lazarus ends sadly we all know where he goes.
And remember the rich man or rich fool, who worked hard all his life and had so much to show for it that he needed bigger barns..
Luke recounts how he died never to enjoy any of it.
There are so many more examples that fit this pattern in Luke’s Gospel that the scripture scholars even have a name for it.
They call it the “great reversal. “ because the parables often take a surprising turn.
When you think the rich are going to fare well it is the poor who come out better.
The strange thing is that it doesn’t seem to matter why someone is poor and someone is rich.
The rich man in the story of Lazarus was not mean, it doesn’t say that he became rich at the expense of the poor, he simply was blinded by his affluence and didn’t notice Lazarus.
That was his sin… he didn’t notice the poor and because of this sin he was was forced to call out from “a place of torment.” for all eternity.
You know I was so blessed to work in a desperately poor neighborhood in Rome when I studied theology.
When you live and work with the poor it becomes apparent that it is easier to preach the Gospel to them.
Easier because they don’t have as many distractions.
When life’s questions close in on a poor person he can’t distract himself by going and buying himself something.
He may not even have the resources to go to the movies or find some other kind of entertainment.
He has to face the questions of life, and many do so through the eyes of faith.
The poor, not all but many, turn to God because there is simply no other place to go.
The poor, not all but many, can also be much more sensitive to the needs of others.
When we were in Tanzania an elderly woman told me, in my village no one will die of hunger we will always cut the loaf of bread so that all may eat, even if that means that no one really gets enough.
Luke understands that the converse is also true.
The rich have so many distractions and consolations that it is possible for some to go through life without ever really feeling the need to even know or love the Lord or be concerned about the poor.
And while not always true, sometimes those who have more hold much tighter to what they have, than those who have little.
We live in the most affluent country in the whole world.
People all over the world go without the bare necessities of life.
In panama I knew people who worked for $5.00 a day.
When we take the time to really understand, it is almost scary how we disproportionately use the resources of the world to support our standard of living.
Sometimes I wonder if Luke’s Gospel shouldn’t have a special place in all of our heart.
If Luke were here today would we have been his designated audience ?
When we hear the beatitude of Luke we have to ask ourselves which ones apply to us?
as a Church,
and as a nation,
And the answer to that important question has to affect the way we choose to live and the choices we make.
There’s lots to think about and lots pray about here..