February 17, 2019
Fr. Joseph Jacobi
Farmer Jones was working in his garden one day when one of his pumpkins started talking to him. That’s right, a pumpkin spoke to him. The pumpkin said: “I just woke up. Today, I woke up. I suddenly realized that everything I have comes from outside of me. That the life I have does not come from me. So I give thanks for the soil which feeds my hunger and the rain, which quenches my thirst. I give praise for the sun that warms me, and the wind which cools me.
Because I finally woke up, I’ve decided to give my fruit to Mrs. Jones to make pumpkin pies. Because I’m grateful for all that has been given me, I want you, Farmer Jones, to take the seeds in my belly and plant them next Spring in this garden to bring forth more pumpkins from the earth. And give my shell to your kids that they might carve me up into a ‘jack-o-lantern’ to scare away the bad spirits.”
There are 2 types of persons in this world: There are pumpkins and there are bumpkins. There are those who are awake and know where life comes from, and there are those who are sleepwalking, unaware that all they have and are is a gift from God. There are the “pumpkin people” who place their trust in God, sharing generously what they’ve been give, and there are the bumpkins who fearfully hold onto what they have and are always filled with worry and anxiety.
The evangelist Luke addresses his Gospel to an affluent community whose members are tempted to place their trust in their riches and to hoard what they have. So the blessings and woes spoken by Jesus turns their world upside down, and ours as well.
The poor and hungry and sorrowing and persecuted are much more likely to turn to God in their need, to recognize that everything they have comes from the hand of God. The rich and full and laughing and well-thought-of are much more likely to place all their trust in what they have and make into a “god” what they have and worry constantly about losing it.
These blessings and woes of Jesus have been re-imagined by the famous Jesuit preacher, Fr. Walter Burghardt, to help us understand that we are blessed only if we put on the mind of Christ, who was poor and hungry and sorrowing and persecuted.
Fr. Burghardt says:
“Blessed, fortunate, happy are you who are rich, rich in money or power, in talent or time, because you can do so much for the poor, can lift the yoke of the oppressed. But blessed only if you have the mind of the poor, the mind of Christ. Only if you recognize that you may not do what you will with what you have. Only if you realize you are stewards, that whatever you ‘own’ you hold in trust.
Blessed, fortunate, happy are you who are full now, who are sleek and well-fed, because you are strong enough to feed the hungry, to touch empty stomachs with compassion. But blessed are you only if you have the mind of the hungry, the mind of Christ. Only if you do not take your food for granted. Only if you are uncomfortable as long as one sister or brother cries in vain for bread or justice or love. Only if you experience your own emptiness — how desperately you need the hungry, how far you are from God. Blessed are the full, if you are always hungry.
Blessed are you who laugh now, because you can bring the joy of Christ to others, to those whose days are woven of tears.
But blessed only if with Christ you can laugh at yourselves, if you don’t take yourselves too seriously, if human living does not revolve around you and your needs. Blessed are you only if you take delight in God’s creation and in the presence of the Trinity within you.
You are blessed only if laughter means you let go— let go of all that shackles you to yesterday, to dead hopes, to all that imprisons you in your small selves.”
Blessed are you because you are free, free to be loved and to love more fully.
In the waters of baptism, we became a new creation and were clothed in Christ, joined to him heart, mind, body and soul. As with our own human minds, we have to develop the mind of Christ given to us in baptism and use this great gift, we have to grow in thinking more and more with Christ Jesus and like Christ Jesus.
Each day we have to renew our commitment to put on the mind of Christ. We have to plant ourselves like a tree next to the living waters of our baptism, and realize that the life we have been given is not ours to hold onto but to give away.
So that those suffering from the scorching heat of injustice, might find shade under our branches. So that the fruit we produce might feed those hungering for compassion. So that we may give away a branch here or there to be wood for a blazing fire, providing light to those who walk in darkness and warmth to those whose hearts have grown cold.