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Rainbow on a plain. God’s promises didn’t just come to us from mountains.

Before Pastor Sean delivers the sermon, he reads a scripture. I hadn’t looked ahead to the sermon title but listened while he read Luke 6:17-26. If it doesn’t leap to mind, it will still sound familiar to many of you. It tells of Christ coming down to stand on a level place among the people. He looked up at the disciples and preached a sermon that I know you’ve heard. It begins: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Many of us recognize the Beatitudes even if we don’t remember where to find them in the Bible.

After reading the passage, Pastor Sean explained to us that this well-known passage is the Sermon on the Plain. Hmm. Wait. The plain? I know I wasn’t the only one thinking this because one of my fellow choir members spoke up. “You mean the Mount.”

Then he explained the differences between the Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon on the Mount. I wondered how I had missed the fact that there are two very similar sermons. After all, I had just finished a challenge during which you read the Gospels in 40 days. I had recently read both sermons. I simply assumed that Luke was repeating what Matthew had written. Nope. I may have a good ear for detail, but I had missed it.

Fortunately, God knows that try as we might sometimes we don’t hear what is being said. That was often the case when Christ told the people parables. That’s okay. He is clearly ready to repeat himself if that’s what it takes. Fortunately, we have his instructions in print and we can read them as often as it takes.

After all, if we don’t hear what he has to say, how can we carry it out? How can we all approach him from the same level playing field – a plain of His making? Because our money and our educations may give us an edge in the world in which we live. But in the world that God would have us create, not so very much.

And fortunately, he’s willing to tell us again if that’s what it takes to get the message across. That’s the wonder of being children of God’s grace and love.


So there I was: spending my weekly hour with God, a practice we Catholics call Perpetual Adoration. In our little chapel there is always someone present; the monstrance holding the consecrated Eucharist must never be left unattended. My hour is on Friday, and provides an ideal time for reflection.

In this case, fighting post-prandial wooziness and shivering in response to the overzealous air conditioning, I found myself asking: Believing as I do in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, knowing that he is here with me, what should I ask Jesus? The answer came back quickly. My question would be, “What can I do for you?” And I knew just what he would reply: “You already know. It’s all in the book.”

The “book” is, of course, the Bible, and specifically, in the words Christ himself spoke. In these words we get all the direction we need for living our lives. So if, like me, you’ve ever asked what you could do for God, here are just a few ideas, culled from Christ’s own words:

  1. Give to those in need.
  2. Divest yourself of things: You don’t need them.
  3. Practice the Beatitudes.
  4. Speak of Jesus to other people.
  5. Love your neighbor. All the time. As much as you can.
  6. Follow Christ’s example.
  7. Trust in God.
  8. Forgive, forgive, forgive.

There’s more, of course — much more. It’s a lot like having a textbook that includes the answers to each chapter’s exercises in the back. Christ’s words are there for us to access; he gave us the answers we seek. All we have to do is read them. We’ve got the book. What more do we need?




Have a Mary Little Christmas

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