As we look at the readings for this week, there are two clear camps that appear- the “Blessed” and the “Cursed.” Each reading touches on this: looking at those who are Blessed and those who are not.

In our first reading the prophet Jeremiah tells us “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.” Our responsorial psalm says “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” In our Gospel we see the familiar and comforting beatitudes, which show those who are blessed despite their poverty, hunger, grief, and persecution. What comforting, uplifting, and affirming words from our Lord are these!

There’s the other camp though, too. “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,” says Jeremiah. “Not the wicked, not so… the way of the wicked vanishes,” comes from our psalm. And Jesus concludes his Beatitudes in Luke’s Gospel with a series of woes to things that seem pretty comfortable: riches, fullness, laughter, and esteem.

I find it tempting to focus on the “warm fuzzies” when I crack open my Bible—to look at the verses that bring me comfort and to gloss over the ones that are more challenging. And this is exactly what these readings are getting at. We are not called to simply be comfortable; we are called to eternal life with Jesus!

A quick Google search for the word “blessed” returns this definition: “noun. Those who live with God in heaven.” We are called to heaven—to a life with God—and that starts here and now! Just look at those that are considered blessed in our readings for today. It is those who hope in the Lord, those who look beyond this world and the temporal comforts and cling to the Lord and his ultimate plan for them: Heaven.

This is what St. Paul talks about in the second reading as he tells the Corinthians “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.” Christ came not just to make us comfortable in this life but to give us the hope of everlasting life with him!

Sometimes I do well placing my hope in the Lord, especially in situations that challenge me and remind me just how imperfect this world is. But when things are comfortable, it’s easy to fall into the sinful mindset that it’s in myself that my hope and strength lie. And the longer I allow that sin to fester, the harder it is to trust in the Lord. I find myself feeling like the barren bush Jeremiah talks about in the first reading.

Here’s the good news though! Jesus did not die and rise from the dead so my sin could fester. He conquered death so that I could be washed clean and free from sin in this life—in the here and now! Mass begins with a penitential rite, an opportunity for us to bring our sins to Jesus: to not let them fester but to renew our hope in Him and in the abundant life he has promised us in this world and ultimately in eternal life with Him in Heaven.

May we all strive to be blessed.

In his hope,

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