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Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

                                                           Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Once upon a time, a king promised that he would give a bag of gold to the most diligent person in the kingdom. He said he would watch people conduct their daily activities to identify the most diligent in the kingdom to find the individual.

Of course, everyone wanted the bag of gold, and people started doing all manner of things to court the king’s attention. Daily, people pass through the palace looking overworked. Some would even bring gifts, items, and other things to the king seeking the king’s notice.

It seemed that everyone and every household had their varying understanding of “diligence.” However, nobody remembered or cared to find out what the king meant by the most diligent person as they worked hard in ways that appealed to them to have the bag of gold.

One day, the king announced that he found the most diligent person, and he would announce the person to everyone the next day. On that day, the palace was packed, and everyone was expectant.

Addressing the people, the king asked, “did anyone of you notice a big stone in front of the palace which was never there?” Everyone responded, “yes.” Then he asked, “did anyone of you try to move it since it was blocking the way?” Again, they all answered “no.” Then, pointing to a poor farmer standing beside him, he said, “he is the most diligent person in the kingdom. He got the bag of gold because he moved the stone, and the bag of gold was under the stone.”

Blessedness is a treasure in uncommon places

Often, treasures hide in unusual places, and only those with uncommon understanding can find them. We understand from the scriptures that God’s thoughts and ways are different from ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). So, one of the best discoveries we can make in life is to understand what God wants from us, not necessarily what we want, because he knows what we need (Matt. 6:8).

The Blessedness of Trustful: In the First Reading of this Sunday (Jeremiah 17:5-6), God challenged the people to choose either a curse or a blessing depending on the direction of their trust. Those who trust in human beings and the strength of the flesh would be accursed, but those who trust in the Lord will flourish with blessings even in challenging times.

It is quite easy to trust human beings, just as it is easy for them to fail us anytime or even when they didn’t mean to do so due to our human limitations. The benefit of trusting God is that He is too faithful to fail (2 Tim 2:13), and He will fulfill whatever he says (Ezekiel 12:25). Likewise, Solomon would tell us in the Book of Proverbs to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not lean on our understanding (Prov. 3:5).

According to the oracle of the Prophet Jeremiah, the accursed person who trusts in human beings will be like a barren bush in the desert that lacks access to better seasons but wastes away with dryness. In contrast, the one who trusts in the Lord and hopes in Him is blessed. The person is like a tree planted beside the waters that receive a steady supply and bear abundant fruits.

The blessedness of the Poor in Spirit

Today we read one of the timeless sermons of our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as the Beatitude. Luke (6:17, 20-26) tells us that it was on the plain, while Matthew (5:1-11) tells us that the sermon was on the mount. However, the two accounts give the divine perspective on obtaining eternal blessedness. Notice that Jesus did not say, “Blessed are those who pray and fast every time.” Instead, he leverages certain dispositions like the poor in spirit, which started the sermon in both accounts.

Jesus could have shocked his audience when he started with how blessed the poor in spirit are because they will inherit the kingdom of God. The question; “what is the connection between poverty in spirit and the kingdom of God?”. More appropriately, “what is poverty in the spirit?

The poor in spirit constantly feel the need for God and long for Him. In Psalm (42:1-2), David says, my soul longs and thirsts for God. Furthermore, the poor in spirit is humble before God. The Book of Proverbs (16:18-19) says, “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be a lowly spirit among the poor than divide the spoil with the proud.” The poor in spirit surely make heaven because it takes humility to be lifted.

Moving Forward: Obtaining the keys of Trust and Humility: We have been able to understand the poor in spirit as one who submits and depends on God. Furthermore, one needs to be humble to be poor in spirit. The humble person relies on God alone for elevation.

The virtues of trust and humility are inseparable bedfellows and important keys to the doors of blessedness. The challenge we have in our world today has a lot to do with our over-dependence and trust in the material gains around us. We often trust our doctors and the medications than we do to God in our prayers. Sometimes we place more premium on human beings and their ranks and positions than on God, our creator who knows our end from the beginning.

Today, we learn that we are open to being among the blessed to the extent we adopt some dispositions that would lead us to that. God is optimally interested in how we respond to the things that happen to us in life more than the things themselves. For instance, Jesus tells us to rejoice when people hate, exclude, and denounce us as evil because there is a greater reward for us.

God is ready to bless you today, but you need to be trustful and humble to receive God’s blessings. God bless you!

Fr. Bonnie.

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