Several months ago, I read from the Manila Bulletin about a certain Dionie Reyes who won P14,125,032 in the Lotto 6/42 draw on April 22, 2008. After hitting it big, he lived the life of a millionaire. He lived in a P4-million house in a posh subdivision, drove around in a sports utility vehicle (SUV), and gave goodwill money, ranging P1,000 to P 850,000, to relatives and friends. He also gambled daily, womanized, and went on regular drinking sprees.
Unfortunately, nearly four years after his lucky streak, from being an instant millionaire, he now owes some people about P500,000. And to underscore his current state of living, Dionie underwent a heart surgery at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) without any cash on hand. And he had to thank the PCSO management for helping him pay for the cost of operation of also about P500,000. In the end, he felt sorry for his unbridled spending spree.
For ordinary people this is their idea of blessedness: having much money, owning a big house, driving an expensive car, eating in the most luxurious restaurants, wearing the latest fashionable clothes or having costly jewelries.
But Jesus teaches a very revolutionary idea then and even now (cf. Lk 6:20-26). He is hinting on values that are counter-cultural. Let’s admit it. Being poor, hungry, sorrowing or being hated are not values of our world and our times. To be poor and to go hungry, for the Jews, were considered curses. It is the same today. The poor suffer. They even say justice is only for the rich. If you go hungry, people will laugh at you and brand you “lazy.”
However, these are values favored by Jesus. He considers them blest! But note that they are blest for a reason. They are blest “on account of the Son of Man.” They are not really blest because of poverty itself or hunger or their state of sorrow. They are blest because they patiently suffering all these tragedies and inconveniences for Jesus. It is their faith that makes them blest by God.
Jesus, then, is teaching us that these are not absolute values. Some people actually give up these things for a greater good. They do it for the Kingdom of God.
I met a French man (I forgot his name) who used to have a high paying job in his country. But he left his job and his homeland after hearing “God’s call” to join the Brothers of St. John in Banawa, Cebu City. Francis of Assisi was the son of a rich merchant before embracing the life of poverty for Jesus’ sake. Augustus Czartoryski (1858-1893) was a Polish prince. He gave up his inheritance and his title of nobility to become a priest in the newly founded society of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Priests and religious give up having a partner in life for Christ.
Yet all these renunciations are meaningless if not for Jesus. Giving up would be in vain if not for the Kingdom of God. And when we do something for Christ we are among those blest by God.