(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
The Gospel for this Sunday begins with Jesus coming down from a mountain. On the mountain, he has spent time in prayer and has chosen twelve of the disciples to be his apostles. Apostles are people who are sent out to do the will of God. Before they are sent out, though, they need to learn how to be an apostle.
Jesus came down with the twelve and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.
A great crowd of people gathers around Jesus and the twelve. St. Luke tells us that they gather on a level place. We know that level means flat and even. This is not the mountain, and there are no hills. There are no valleys either. Everyone stands together on the level ground.
Then he looked up at his disciples
How can Jesus look up at his disciples if everyone is standing together on level ground? Jesus must have made himself lower.
Possibly Jesus has sat down on the ground. This is what a teacher in those days would do. Teachers sit down to teach. The people would see him as their teacher.
Possibly Jesus has squatted down or has sunk to his knees. This is what a servant would do. Servants makes themselves lower than the one they serve. The people would see him as their servant.
Their servant? Is Jesus a servant?
From his place on the ground, Jesus says,
“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.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
The poor, the hungry, those who are crying—Jesus speaks to them. He looks at all the people, but he speaks directly to some of them. What do these people have in common?
The poor do not have enough money. Their hands are empty.
The hungry do not have enough food. Their bellies are empty.
What about those who weep? We do not know why they are weeping, but we know they do not have enough joy. Their hearts are empty.
All of these people need something.
From his place on the ground, Jesus looks at all the people and sees that even though they stand on level ground, everything is not even. Some of the people are in need.
Jesus calls all of these people blessed. If people are blessed, they are right before God. When people know they are in need, they are ready to receive. Their hands are empty, their bellies are empty, their hearts are empty—they are ready for God to fill them. They are able to see that all they receive is gift.
Then Jesus says,
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Jesus' tone has changed. He is not speaking of blessings now, but of woes—of sorrow. The rich, the full, those who are laughing—Jesus speaks to them.
How can some people be rich, when others do not have enough money? Do they not see them?
How can some people be full, when others do not have enough food? Do they not see them?
How can some people be laughing, when others do not have enough joy? Do they not see them?
From his place on the ground, Jesus looks at all the people and sees that everything is not even. Some of the people do not notice those in need. They are satisfied. They do not have a need for change.
Jesus does not call these people blessed. Are they right before God? They have made their hands, bellies, and hearts so full—do they have room for God to fill them? They are not able see that all they have received is gift. They do not see that there is a need for change.
From his place on the ground, what does Jesus teach the apostles? He has made himself low, like a servant. Perhaps apostles need to be servants, too.
Will the apostles be the only ones who join Jesus? Will they be the only ones who kneel with him to serve the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful?
We wonder if Jesus waits for the rich, the full, and those who are laughing? Does he wait for them to be satisfied no longer, to need things to change?
But wait—if people who are full help the people who are empty, won't everything just switch? Won't they become blessed while the others become full of woe?
Or will everything become level?
Standing on level ground, everyone will be ready to receive the Kingdom of God as gift.