BY DAVID MARION
Sunday: 15th February 6th Sunday of the Year Jeremiah 17: 5-81; Corinthians 15: 12.16-20; Luke 6: 17.20-26 ALL THE THREE READINGS today express different aspects of the same message. God's ways are not the ways of the world. We have all to choose which Kingdom we want to live in. Jeremiah puts it rather roughly. "A curse on the man who puts his trust in man... he is like dry scrub in the wasteland..."
The place to put your trust is in the Lord. Do that and you become like a tree on the edge of a river. Such a tree "never ceases to bear fruit."
Jeremiah uses almost the exact words of the first psalm from King David. Trusting in God means growth and life. St Paul, writing to the Corinthians also presents a contrast. The view of the world, then as now, is that this life is all we have. Paul's cluistian belief is that this life is not the end. Why not? Because as Christ rose from the dead, so we, who share his life, will rise as well.
How this will happen and what another life will be like we have almost no idea. St Paul says elsewhere that, as we now see through a glass darkly, we will be taken up into the light and wonder of God's love. So our lives are only Act One of a much longer drama. What we are and what we have in this world is of passing significance. What matters is that we are already citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Our Lord, in St Luke's Gospel has a similar message. He has just chosen his apostles after a time of prayer on the hill top and has come down to be with the ordinary people. There is a lovely little penpicture which gets left out of today's reading.
"Everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power went out from him and he cured them all."
In front of the pressing crowd, he contrasts this world and his Kingdom. Some are warned: the rich, the well-fed, the contented and the respectable who enjoy praise. Some are blessed: the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful and the hated. These, first of all, are the citizens of his world. Does all this mean a bit more pie in the sky religion for the downtrodden of this world? Suffer now and be happy in heaven?
Not at all. If Jesus had preached such a message he would never have ended up on a cross. He would have disturbed no one. In reality, his Kingdom has already started. He himself feeds the hungry and heals the sick. His message of justice was one for the present as well as the future. That is why, now as then, it is an uncomfortable one.