30 October 2016

“Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (v. 24)

Psalm: Psalm 149


Today is the closest Sunday to All Saints Day - many churches will mark this high point of the Christian year by praying for all saints, known and unknown. Some churches will hold special services on Tuesday 1 November, the day when the feast day falls. On Tuesday this week we will visit Matthew's Beatitudes as we remember those who have lived lives that demonstrate God's blessings to the world. But today we consider Luke's Beatitudes - or as they are more often called, Luke's 'Blessings and Woes'.

There is a contrast between these two texts. Matthew sets out a list of those who will be blessed, from the poor to those who will be hated for professing their faith - it is a familiar text to many people and full of hope for the poor, the hungry and those who mourn. Luke's Gospel goes further however.

With all the precision of a physician, Luke diagnoses the spiritual health of those who are rich and have full bellies and laugh, whilst others mourn. In this view of God's future realm, those who sit comfortably and ignore the needs of others will not share in the blessings of that kingdom of peace and plenty. Luke's Gospel makes it clear that the rich have significant barriers to a full understanding of God's economy of grace. The way to demonstrate membership of God's kingdom is to love even those who hate you, to give away all excess and to follow the 'golden rule' that is at the heart of most religious ethics - to do to others as you would have them do to you.

To Ponder

  • How do you respond to Luke's consistently uncomfortable message to those who are wealthy?
  • Who are the saints in your Christian story?
  • Is there an action you can take today that demonstrates your willingness to do to others what you would have them do to you? If you can, take it.

Bible notes author:  The Revd Micky Youngson

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