Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 6:17, 20-26
February 13, 2022
Feeling surrounded by threatening people and closed in by stressful circumstances, King David prayed to God for Divine intervention. His prayer for relief is preserved as Psalm 143. There, we hear:
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May Your kind Spirit guide me on ground that is level.
Several different places in Sacred Scripture, we find the expression “level ground,” conjuring up the image of a pleasant route, without obstacles or obstructions. As a senior citizen, I have personally come to appreciate the importance o “level ground.” Stairs, an incline in a sidewalk, as well as things like throw rugs and any number of unexpected and unseen obstacles can lead to a serious fall. I know this to be true from first-hand experience.
Spiritually, obstructions in our life’s journey can also make progress more challenging, and much less enjoyable…AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS!
That being said, it is interesting to note a detail that Luke included in the description of Jesus’s address to “…a great crowd of His disciples and a large number of people” gathered from many different locations. It would seem that Jesus was speaking to an extremely diverse group of people. And in doing so, He stood on a stretch of level ground.
He stood on a stretch of level ground.
That’s the important detail that can easily go unnoticed. By intentionally placing Himself on a stretch of level ground, was Jesus sending a signal? Was The Lord telling us:
Here is the answer to your prayer! This is The Father’s will! This is the way to the Kingdom that offers the least resistance…the fewest stumbling blocks! This is the most pleasant route to take.
The “WOES” certainly seem to be a “caution sign,” warning against a path filled with material comforts, gratification, and pride. These are the very kinds of obstacles to spiritual progress that Jeremiah warns against in our First Reading. These are the kinds of obstacles that provide a false sense of security and make for greater self-reliance. The result is “heart trouble.” When we rely on our own strength to sustain us, we turn our hearts away from the Lord. The consequences can be fatal.
Undoubtedly, there were many privileged people in that “great crowd” who found this teaching very hard to swallow. But there were certainly many more impoverished, chronically sick, disabled, homeless, marginalized victims of discrimination listening to Jesus as He stood on a stretch of level ground…teaching them God’s will…the Eternal Kind Spirit…directing them on a path sure to lead them to The Kingdom.
For them, it must have been extremely challenging to rise above their sufferings and rejoice that a great reward awaited them in the next world. It’s hard to see the wisdom in this teaching when a person’s eyes are filled with tears.
It would seem, then, that every person in that great and diverse crowd was on “level ground” in terms of the challenges raised by this revolutionary teaching. It’s fair to say, however, that almost everyone that day understood this much to be true:
From lived experience, everyone in that great and diverse crowd knew…firsthand…that no one’s life is completely free from perilous conditions. This is a dangerous and hostile world we live in. No one travels in complete comfort.
But those, like King David, who are wise enough to ask for God’s help along the way, will be guided onto the path of least resistance. Let us pray, then, for the wisdom to recognize those things…either good or bad…that cause us to turn our hearts away from the Lord!
Simply put, let us do our best to be “level-headed” and “level-hearted” so that we can journey toward the reward that awaits all those who have placed their hope in the Lord…on level ground.