Mass Readings

February 17, 2019

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 78

Reading 1 Jer 17:5-8

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
but stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
it fears not the heat when it comes;
its leaves stay green;
in the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked,
nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
but delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
that yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Reading 2 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20

Brothers and sisters:
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Alleluia Lk 6:23ab

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad;
your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 6:17, 20-26

Jesus came down with the twelve
and stood on a stretch of level ground
with a great crowd of his disciples
and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.
And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
“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.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
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.”
Homily: February 17
Rev. Fr. Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam 
Holy Angels Parish, St. Albans, Vermont 
Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1:1-2,3,4,6; 1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20; Luke 6:17,20-26

There are things we do on earth to be able to qualify for either the blessings of God or curses. Everything is about our attitude. “Our Attitude must become Be-attitude.” Fr. Arokiasamy Sagayanathan, Launching Pad, p. 299. A couple of weeks ago we saw Jesus’ proclamation of the Good News and the rejection from the synagogue, which led to the preaching at the Lake of Gennesaret, and the eventual call of Simon Peter.
▪Today Jesus is laying the ground rules for becoming a true disciple, which are:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.” (Cf Luke 6:20). He began laying down these rules after choosing from among His disciples those He called the apostles. When we get new appointments or secure new jobs, the first thing we are often introduced into is the ground rules.
▪The first thing we have to do to be able to follow Jesus sincerely is to detach from everything that may become an obstacle to us. The meaning of poverty here is a call to depend on the power of God to provide. When the apostles answered their calls, they left their families behind, and all they had in order to be able to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who had nowhere to lay His head, (cf Luke 9:58).
▪It is only when we are ready to leave every attachments behind that we can live up to the ensuing beatitudes. When we leave everything behind we will still feel the hunger for what we have left behind. Take for instance, one who has left a certain kind of life will always have a pull to go back; but now instead of going back to this old way of life, we will seek the satisfaction that comes from Jesus Himself.
▪The Lord went further to tell them and us that we will weep, but will later laugh. The saints who are enjoying eternity were once like us in this world, and had their difficulties, but today in eternity they are enjoying the beatific vision. After teaching them what they ought to do to earn blessings, He went further to teach them what may lead to curses.
▪He began by saying woe to those who are rich, because they have had their consolation. The first obstacle against following Jesus is wealth. The love of riches is the reason why many people have refused to follow Jesus today. We are conversant with the story of the young man who went away sad, because of his riches, (cf Matthew 19:22; Mark 10:22).
▪It was not by coincidence that He began with poverty as a door to the blessings; and riches as the first obstacle against being His true disciple. When one has riches, one will have more friends, fame, popularity; and in those riches, there is tendency to lack wisdom and behave like beasts, (cf Psalm 49:21) The New American Bible. Think of those who followed Him in humility, who later seek wealth as leaders, their messages will change; their lifestyles change too.
▪It is at this stage that the first reading tells us that anyone who trusts in human being is cursed. Are we free from this? If we trust more in the safety provided by human beings than that provided by God, we have lost the channels of blessings. To lose the blessings that come from trusting in God is to be cursed.
▪There is no place in the scripture where we are told to trust in human beings, because human beings can err but God cannot err. All that the scripture asks us is to love our fellow human beings, so that even if they disappoint us, we will still love them.
▪Those people who trust in human beings turn their hearts away from God, because no one can serve two masters at the same time, (cf Matthew 6:24). These are the people who sing the praises of the king or a leader, even when such is not performing up to the demands. Since they are more interested in the material things they will gain they hardly trust in God.
▪These people that trust in human beings are always afraid. Most of the world leaders are afraid, thus why they need armed guards for them to be able to move around. They do not live freely because everywhere is filled with enemies. They are insecure even among their family members. This is why they are like barren bush in the desert. There is no blessings for such as these because they do not trust in the Lord.
▪When we live as if everything ends in this world, we are to be pitied. St. Paul in the second reading is telling us that our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not in vain. This is because if Jesus rose from the dead, then the promise that where He is there will those who believe in Him be, (cf John 14:3) will come to fulfilment.
▪Our faith would have been useless if Jesus had not overcome death, but since He overcame death, those who die in Him will live with Him. Those who live and die in Him will live forever, but those who do not believe in Him have lost the eternal communion with Him.
▪Dear friend, the major problem we face in the world is coming from the fact that we have lost that union with God. We worship human beings instead of God. This is evidenced in what we have in the name of religion – people follow a religious leader instead of God. They do what he or she says even when it is clear this person is deceiving them. They honour them, but dishonour God by their attitudes everywhere. Politically we are more interested in our individual parties more than the common interest of the masses. This is why we live in a cursed world; cursed by greed; cursed by our disobedience; cursed by our vices. Trusting God is the only option for blessings, let us detach from excessive quest for material things, so that we will be able to encounter the blessings of God. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
God wants to bless us, let us trust in Him
May you never lose your peace and joy because God is still with us
Fr Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam

Holy Angels Parish and St Mary’s Parish, St Albans, Vermont