This Sunday we have Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, which includes blessings as well as woes. We had a rich sharing in our small group, so I’ll offer you some of the fruit of that (without betraying anyone’s confidence of course!).
God blesses us in our struggles, sorrows, needs, and hunger, and we felt great comfort from that. It’s a temptation to try to avoid the more painful emotions, but the only way through grief and sorrow is to keep moving right through them. If God is with us, then there is nothing to fear. Maybe we can allow or even welcome them. It’s also affirming to know that God loves us even when others don’t seem to. It’s natural to want to be liked, but if that is our only motivation, then we’re not free to speak our minds or challenge without fear of what other people think.
We also talked about the woes. It’s not that God condemns those who have enough or who are joyful, but rather, it’s those who are wealthy or find amusement at the expense of others who experience woe. We all need to be challenged when we are living too comfortably or when we live in a bubble, unaware of the needs of our neighbors. As Christians, we are not called to be comfortable. Nothing in the Gospel ever says that! But we are called to notice those around us who suffer from very real hunger and to try and alleviate it. We are called to connect with our own sorrow to comfort other people who suffer. That’s the life we chose in following Christ.
Of course, in our following Christ, we do seek blessings rather than woes. As one of our group members said, “No more woes! Only more blessings! Mo’ blessings, no woes.”
The Spirit really moved during our sharing, and so I thought I would offer you, our extended God Space community, a chance to pray with these words too. I’ll guide you through the process we use during our small groups, but I hope you feel free to allow your prayer to take you where it will.
So, I invite you to take some time to read the reading slowly, maybe even aloud. What words or phrases attract your attention?
Now, I invite you to read it again and to focus on what jumped out to you. What does it say to you? How does it relate to your life?
Here are some other questions, in case you’d like some more to guide you:
Have you ever felt blessed by God’s presence in times of sorrow or hunger or need? What was that like?
What do you hunger for the most?
Have you ever felt like you had everything you needed and could rely on solely yourself? What was that like? Where was God in it?
Have you ever entered into conversation with someone in great need? Was God in that experience? What was it like?
What does God want to show you about yourself in these words?
Now, I invite you to read the passage one last time. Is there a call in it for you? A takeaway? Something you want to take with you to continue to reflect on?
Lastly, if you can, take a few moments to rest in God’s presence. God has been waiting all day to get your attention, and now God has it. Just let God love you. If you get distracted, that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself as God is gentle with you.
May God who loves you bless and keep you. Mo’ blessings, no woes.
By Sister Leslie Keener, CDP
P.S. If you enjoyed this process, you might also like a GS small group. Sometimes it’s easier to do with other people, and God speaks through each person’s sharing. If you want to learn more, feel free to contact me at GodSpaceCommunity@gmail.com.