The Crown of Glory

Post Date: February 8, 2022
Author: Henry Avila

A Reflection on the Readings on the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 13, 2022

Reading I: Jeremiah 17:5-8
Responsorial: Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Gospel: Luke 6:17, 20-26

The prophet Jeremiah (Jer 15:5-8) warns us not to place our trust in the things of this world – people, money, power…

These things will bring about disappointment at best and eternal condemnation at worst. Worldly power, materialism, and strength become so important in our life that they contribute to our downfall by turning our hearts away from God. We start to believe that we are the ones that have accomplished all these wonderful things without giving praise and thanksgiving to God for his grace to gain those material possessions.

Some think that God does not like us to have good things, but that is not the case. God wants us to have the greatest of all things, namely HIM, our Lord and God. When we take good things, such as family, work, and money, and they become things that “with which we cannot live without,” then the good has become the enemy of the best (God). He wants good things for us, but these things have to be ordered properly, and what is that order? For a married person, fulfilling our duties are first to love God then self, spouse, family, “our neighbor,” and then the rest of the world. I include the “self” right after God, not intending to make it an egotistical or narcissistic duty but to put our life in the proper order with God so that we can be the best spouse, parent, and friend. We must let God mold us and teach us how to love as HE loves!

It is when we take these things out of order that relationships break and suffer. Our focus on material things to the exclusion of the spiritual life causes us to eventually see evil as “natural” in our world, and we just need to live with it. That passive attitude concerning evil, even small ones, will eventually become passiveness for greater evils. We must constantly be on watch not to associate with the wicked because the “Devil prowls around like a roaring lion ready to devour us.” (1 Pet 5:8)

Reading II (1 Cor 15:12, 16-20)

The scriptures tell us often that those who love and follow God’s commands will be blessed and that God will fight for them (Psalm 1). For so many people, we await that time of “feeling blesses.” It just never seems to get here . . . we keep waiting and waiting for those blessings to come our way. So are the scriptures lying? Are they mere words uttered as the Word of God but have no power? Of course not. It is our misunderstanding of how God sees blessings and how we see blessings. The human concept of blessing is having “comfort” with a nice house, cars to drive, eating out at restaurants, and being able to buy whatever suits us, and living a tranquil life. But the Lord tells us that our hope and our blessing is in the fact that at the end of our lives, the faithful will be raised from the dead. Our hope is in the resurrection, not necessarily in compensation and comfort here on earth.

The resurrection is the key ending to the story of salvation for God’s people. If Christ suffered and died on the cross to redeem us from eternal damnation, but never rose from the dead, we would have no hope. Our faith would be in vain (1 Cor 15:14). It is the “blessing” of the resurrection in which all injustices, suffering and tribulations will be erased and replaced with justice, joy, authentic love and contentment. When we look for contentment in this life, we will only find temporary contentment in the things of this world. Our true joy and happiness, our ultimate sense of freedom and purpose in life, will be revealed at our entrance into heaven and our reward will be great! (Lk 6:23)

Gospel (Lk 6:17, 20-26)

The Lord confirms this in his discourse of the “beatitudes,” or blessings to his disciples.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.

“Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.”

For the faithful who have not prospered materially in this world but have kept the faith, Jesus promises us a kingdom! You will like royalty in this new kingdom, and all of the things you never had in the world will be yours in the next. When you were not able to enjoy the liberty of dining out, everything your eyes desired will be granted in a manner beyond understanding. When you are despondent and heartbroken, true joy will be yours in the kingdom of heaven. And all the injustices and tribulations you have endured in this world will be eradicated by an unimaginable reward the Lord has in store for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9).

If we desire that God “bless us” with wealth and comfort in this world, then this wealth and comfort will be our reward. The question for us to ponder is, “Do I want the reward of this world or that of the next?” When you are suffering, the easy answer is for God to reward us now while we are in this world. God, instead, wants what is truly good for us, so he sends us his spirit so that we can endure the difficulties of life and receive a crown that awaits us in heaven (Jas 1:12; Rev 2:10). That is our destiny in this world . . . to carry our cross daily (Lk 9:23) and “die to self” so that we can be glorified with him in the life to come (Rom 8:17).

Brother and sisters, strive to add your name to the list of those who came before us and persevered to the end, and received their crown of glory with our Lord in heaven. It seems like a lot to ask, but the Lord promised us that it would be worth it!

Peace be with you,

Henry Avila

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