If I’m honest, and who would care enough to lie about such things, I much prefer Luke’s Blessings and Woes to Matthew’s Beatitudes. I think it has to do with the visceral nature of Luke’s version of some of Jesus’ most famous teaching. Rather than the poor in spirit being blessed, we hear from Jesus that it is, in fact, the poor who are blessed, the hungry who will be fed, and those who mourn will find themselves overcome with laughter. If the Kingdom of God is about some kind of grand reversal, then these moves from one fully relatable state of being to its opposite helps me visualize something that is otherwise way beyond my ability to comprehend. What’s frustrating to me is that we so rarely get to hear Luke’s version of the Blessings and Woes.
I like to consider myself something of a rubrical snob. I think clergy should learn to read italics, if only to know what rules they are violating as the illusion of common prayer slowly fades into the mist alongside apostolic succession and Dom Gregory Dix. I have to admit, however, that my understanding of the liturgical calendar and its partner in crime, the Lectionary, is less than adequate.
Epiphany 6, Year C, the only time when Luke 6:17-26 is appointed for the Sunday readings, is something of a lectionary anomaly. Let’s look at the proper math. Epiphany 6 is also known as Proper 1, but according to the rubrics on 158, Proper 1 is never actually read on a Sunday, but rather, it informs the lessons used for a celebration of the Eucharist that occur during the week following the Day of Pentecost, and even then, only if Pentecost falls on or before May 14th. If Pentecost occurs between May 15 and May 26, there is no chance that Epiphany 6 or Proper 1 are read at all. Only if Easter falls on or April 10 will we have the chance to read Epiphany 6, and to get Luke 6, it also has to be Year C which begins on Advent 1 of the year before a year that is divisible by 3. Got that?
I’ve lost most you by now, I’m sure. Please check back later this week for some real content for preaching. Suffice it to say for now, that I’m going to savor Luke’s Blessings and Woes because by my math, I have no idea when we’ll get to hear them again.