|1 Kings 17:1-7
Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
The first reading and the psalm say that God will take care of his faithful, but in our experience, that often does not seem true. And in Jesusí time it certainly did not seem true. People were often persecuted for their religion. They still are. So how can these two seemingly different things both be true? The Lord told Elijah that he should go east and he would be taken care of, and he was. In the psalm we are told, ďOur help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The Lord will guard you from all evil; he will guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.Ē But that doesnít always seem true. There are many good and devout people who have a very tough time. Why is God not taking care of them? And why are so many bad people not just getting by, but really flourishing?
In the Gospel, Jesus explains this disparity. He says that the people who now seem to have it the worst will get their reward in heaven. Those who are insulted and persecuted, but who stay true to their faith, though they suffer now, their reward in heaven will be great. The attributes that God rewards are not necessarily the ones that bring material success here on earth. Those who are humble, poor in spirit, will never have a kingdom on earth, but theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn here will have their comforted in the next world. This world is not the end; itís just the beginning. Even though we have disappointments here and everyone mourns at some point, these things are only earthly and they do not last. The comfort of heaven is for eternity. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness donít always get it here. There is speculation that nearly 5% of death row inmates are actually innocent. Many of those innocent people will die for crimes they did not commit. Justice doesnít always happen here, but Godís justice is supreme and unerring. People who fight for righteousness here sometimes suffer for their convictions. People often suffer for their religions. People suffer for Jesusí sake. And that doesnít always seem right or fair.
But often the people who are successful in this world do it at the
cost of morals and ethics and justice. They do not uphold righteousness,
but they have the material and popular success in this world. But
that may be the best they will get. They were concerned with the
world, and they have the riches of this world. But those who put
God first, even though they suffer for it here, will have a greater reward
in heaven -- where it really counts.
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