The Joy of Detachment!

The Joy of Detachment!

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By Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

February 12, 2022.

Friends in Christ, on this Sunday, our liturgy cautions us about the vanity of riches and the need to embrace poverty of the Spirit

Raised in a society which sees wealth as a blessing from the Lord and poverty as a curse, the Prophet Jeremiah changes the narrative by laying a curse on those who put their trust in created things. In the second reading, St. Paul responds to the controversy of the resurrection by insisting that if Christ had not being raised, we would remain in our sins. In the gospel, Christ presents the Beatitudes to a large crowd. Jesus the paradoxical hero urges us to go against the currents, by redistributing wealth even as we relish the joy of detachment.

Introduction

Friends in Christ, on this Sunday, our liturgy cautions us about the vanity of riches and the need to embrace poverty of the Spirit.” Titled “The Joy of Detachment,” our homily would prepare us for the appropriate pastoral lessons.

Background & Summary of the Readings

Raised in a society which sees wealth as a blessing from the Lord and poverty as a curse, the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 17:2-8) changes the narrative by laying a curse on those who put their trust in created things namely, man and the things of the flesh. The Prophet describes such a man as a dry shrub in the wastelands who has no eye to see good when it comes and who settles in parched places of the wilderness, a salt land, uninhabited. This is the lot of those who embrace poverty of the spirit as against the vanity of riches.

In the second reading (1 Cor. 15:12-16-20), St. Paul responds to the controversy of the resurrection by insisting that if Christ had not being raised, we would remain in our sins. He emphasized that “if our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.” Describing him as the first-fruits of all who have died, Paul contends that “Christ has in fact been raised from the dead. This implies that we ought to raise our hearts to heaven, where Christ is.

In the gospel reading (Luke 6:17.20-26), Christ presents the Beatitudes to a large crowd. As a paradoxical hero who goes against the currents, he counters the mentality that poverty is a curse and wealth, a source of blessing by proposing a vade mecum for the Christian life. Although the book of Job tried to counter that thinking in the Old Testament, the people were slow to embracing Jesus’ new teaching that poverty of the spirit is the in-thing.

Without mincing words, he emphasized that the rich who are receiving their consolation now in laugher will go hungry, mourn and weep. Conversely, he blesses those who are hungry now and weeping noting that they shall be satisfied and laugh. Most importantly, he says, the kingdom of God is theirs. This leads us to three examples of the rich in scripture who failed to pass Jesus’ test of embracing poverty of the spirit.

Examples of the Rich Who Failed Jesus’ Test of Integrity

  1. The Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-22): The rich young ruler failed the test of integrity when Jesus demanded that he should sell all he owns and come follow him. We are told that he went away sad because he was a man of great wealth. His wealth was an obstacle for him towards embracing poverty of the spirit.
  2. The Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21): The rich fool was so carried away with his bumper harvest that he could not attribute that feat and his future to God or even think of helping his nieghbours. Just when he said “my soul, eat and relax…” the demand was made of his soul. Again, he was far from embracing the poverty of the spirit because his wealth blinded him.
  3. The Rich Man, Dives (Luke 16:19-31): The epic story of the rich man, Dives and Lazarus is funny because the former forgot how many times he neglected the poor man at his gate. It was when he was in torment that he remembered. However, one of the lessons he learnt was the message he wanted Papa Abraham to send to his relations on earth. As the gospel of today relates, Dives had his consolation and laughter on earth while Lazarus enjoyed his in paradise. The saying goes, he who laughs last laughs best. Dives’ wealth gave him amnesia about a man who needed his help meaning that poverty of the spirit was not part of his agenda.

Pastoral Lessons

  1. Do not Put Your Trust in Created things: The first reading teaches us not to put our trust in created things such as man and the things of the flesh bearing in mind that those who have other things as their god are like the “dry shrub in the wastelands” whose lives are sterile and full of evil.
  2. Put Your Trust in God: We are reminded that those who put their trust in the Lord will always receive blessings because, like the tree that is planted besides the waterside, the Lord shall be their consolation, provider and defender.
  3. Raise Your thoughts to Heaven: St. Paul’s timeless thesis on the reality of the resurrection of Christ challenges us to always raise our hearts to heaven, where Christ is.
  4. Embrace Poverty of the Spirit: We are urged to embrace the message of the book of Job which Jesus re-echoes namely that good people too suffer and embracing the poverty of the spirit pays.
  5. Take to the Beatitudes: Christians who are confused about legitimate wealth-creation and sustenance have the Beatitudes as a vade mecum for the Christian life bearing in mind that any wealth that is not attributed to the creator is short of the ideal.

Summary Lines

  1. Raised in society which sees wealth as blessing from the Lord and poverty as curse, the Prophet Jeremiah changes the narrative by laying a curse on those who put their trust in created things.
  2. In the second reading, St. Paul responds to the controversy of the resurrection by insisting that if Christ had not being raised, we would remain in our sins.
  3. We ought to raise our hearts to heaven, where Christ is.
  4. In the gospel reading, Christ presents the Beatitudes to a large crowd of people.
  5. As a paradoxical hero who goes against the currents, he counters the mentality that poverty is a curse and wealth a source of blessing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we are warned not to put our trust in man or relay on the things of the flesh. The stories of the rich young man (Mark 10:17-22), the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) and the rich man, Dives (Luke 16:19-31) cautions us not to put our trust in man or wealth but rather in God who is the author and finisher of our faith. While St. Paul invites us to fix our minds in heaven where the resurrected Christ is, Jesus presents the Beatitudes as a recipe for our spiritual malaise. We pray that as individuals and a people, we must learn to redistribute wealth and also embrace simplicity of life and poverty of the spirit. Have a terrific week!

(Reading: Jer. 17:2-8; Responsorial Psalm 1:1-2.3.4 &6(R.Ps.40:ab); 1 Cor. 15:12-16-20 & Gospel Luke 6:17.20-26.)

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