6th Sun C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This Sunday’s Gospel is the beginning of Luke’s ‘Sermon on the Plain’. The parallel in Matthew’s Gospel is the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ Some material in these sermons is similar and, as so often in the Gospels, the differences yield a rich vein of reflection. For Matthew, the Sermon occurs relatively early in Jesus’ ministry while Luke has Jesus give the Sermon only after has consolidated his ministry.
After spending a night of prayer on the mountain, Jesus chose and appointed twelve apostles. He then travels down to a flat area, where a vast and various multitude gather to be healed and to hear him. But it is not to them that these initial words are addressed. Rather, Luke pointedly makes clear that Jesus is preaching directly to his disciples. Commentators hold that Luke wrote these words for the early Christians who were experiencing alienation and persecution for their new faith. His Beatitudes are short, sharp and very concrete. Unlike Matthew’s Beatitudes, they do not lend themselves to being easily ‘spiritualised’. The poor are just that: poor people doing it tough, not people ‘poor in spirit’.
While Matthew has eight Beatitudes, Luke has four, as well as four ‘woes’. The Beatitudes are addressed to disciples who are poor, hungry, mourning and reviled, while the ‘woes’ are addressed to those who are having a good time in life. These are terrifying sentences because Jesus does not say these wealthy, satiated and laughing people have done anything wrong, rather one must presume that their failure was to be insensitive the needy.