Sunday, February 13, 2022

Not Just for Show Flat

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1:1-4, 6; 1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26

Picture: cc

My dear friends, have you visited those condo show-flats nearby, just a few steps from our church? I haven’t. But I wonder what they’re like… As you know, a show-flat aims to do two things. First, it offers a promise for the future. It helps us imagine a place where we might live. And it tries to do this in such an impressive way that we are drawn to sign on the dotted line, to buy that dream home that’s still being built. So a show-flat is also an invitation… to trust, and to commit.

A promise for the future, and an invitation to trust and commit. We find these in our readings too. In the gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that those who are deprived, because they choose to follow Jesus in the present, will be satisfied in the future, when the condominium development that is the kingdom of God is finally completed. Those who suffer now, because they see and relate to reality the way Jesus does. Those who keenly feel the burden of their own helplessness, in the face of evil and sin, yet continue to yearn and work for the common good. Those who weep at the state of our world, and are treated badly, for daring to speak and stand on the side of truth. Jesus promises all these that their sacrifice won’t be in vain. Their reward will be great in heaven.

Like a show-flat, this is not just a promise. It is also an invitation to keep trusting in God, to keep committing one’s life to the Lord. For the second reading reminds us that Christ himself did the same. He bore witness to the truth to the point of death, and was raised to life. So that those who dare to suffer with him, may hope to be raised in him as well.

But our readings are also different from a show-flat, in at least two ways. A show-flat points to something that doesn’t yet exist. It’s a promise only for the future. In contrast, our readings also describe a present reality. Like that tree planted by the water, in the first reading and the psalm, which keeps bearing fruit in a time of drought, those who suffer in Christ, are already blessed now, and remain a blessing to others too, because they draw life in its fullness from an eternal Source.

Next, while a show-flat seeks only to impress, our readings may feel like a cold shower. For they are a warning, a wake-up call, addressed to those of us who, for the sake of worldly pleasures, may be neglecting the concerns of the Lord, choosing to trust in material things, rather than in God. The readings remind us, not just of what we stand to lose in the future, when we do this, but also of our deprivation in the present. For we become like dry scrub in the wasteland, unable to appreciate even the good when it comes.

There is one more thing… We may recall that, in our opening prayer earlier, we asked God to fashion us into a dwelling pleasing to God… Which indicates that what we are being invited to imagine is not just a place for us to live, but also for God. For God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them (1 Jn 4:16). Sister and brothers, what must we do to keep living together, truthfully and courageously, in this holy place today?

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