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February 14, 1992     The Message
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February 14, 1992

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,,,ruary 14, 1992 Commentary l By FATHER "4 DONALD DILGER GOspel Commentary for Sunday, Feb. 16, _992, Sixth Sundav of Ordinarv Time, Cycle C" ,,,,,._ .r ,J ., _ 6:17, 20-26 cth0 Most Christians have heard of the Sermon on MOunt. This is a collection of sayings and dis- rses of Jesus collected bv Matthew into one se] I11 ' M on attributed to Jesus in his role as the new !Ses teaching from the mountain. But few are  are that Luke has assembled much of the same 'terial into a s-rmon of lesus but has iven it a tilt[crew.  - g , .t settin Instead of soeakinz from the mt unt:' " " - so'L am as Jesus does in Matthew, Luke de- ,,"ugs the settine of this sermon in these words" , u ue came down with them (the twelve disci- vl s he had just chosen as apostles) and stood on leve . ,, Plain I place (plain) .... Thus the Sermon on the M,, The contents of the two sermons (Luke and are essentially the same. We conclude th t they go back to a common source which was of this collection of Jesus' teachings from n,mtnesses and earwitnesses of Jesus Matthew ,j.u Luke considerably altered what they had re- tllve d. Matthew, as usual, adds a great deal more eil s words than Luke. Thus Matthew has 2:" ueatitudes while Luke has only four. To Cll of the fotr'beatitudes Luke com oses a corre- SpOnding "woe" or condemnation, wPich Matthew _" ,or do. Bolh Matthew and Luke begin the ser- seWith the beatitudes and in both gospels the Jestlo unis directed primarily to the disciples of hr . l'he purpose of the sermon seems to be to rent a compendium of Jesus' teachings for the n Comnmnities for which Luke and I The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana The sermon on the plain: The beatitudes and woes Matthew are writing. Matthew's approach is more indirect. He writes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," while Luke writes more directly: "Blessed are (you), the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." For the most part Matthew retains the indirect approach, while Luke consis- tently retains the direct approach. It has been said that Matthew was speaking to a wealthy community, while Luke addressed a poor com- munity. One does not go into a wealthy congrega- tion and say: "Blessed are you poor .... " Thus Matthew writes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit .... " Luke declares as "blessed" tile poor, the hun- gry, those who mourn, and the outcasts of soci- ety. Corresponding to each of these four blessings he condemns the rich, those sated with food, those who rejoice now, and those who enjoy a good reputation now. Some of this seems extreme to a modern American reader, especially to the average middle class Christian who has a com- fortable home, enough to eat, at least a minimum of security, and acceptance in society. The wealthy Christian who considers her or his wealth to be the reward of hard work, perhaps even a reward from God for a good life, will also find Luke's beatitudes and woes hard to take. Should we ignore the beatitudes as unsuited for our times? Luke's promises are to be fulfilled in the "kingdom of God," whatever that might have meant to him. Because of a consistent condemna- tion of wealth in his gospel, we may conclude INSURANCE SERVICE Autol Homel Fire & Lifel Your Personal Service Agent L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. Franklin Street 425-3187 i -- -" ....... 5 : F" "19 9 I" I"A X-R-E-T-u-R N l 1 Ir]fl/ PREPARATION I I' a"   I "V I V Call 464-3633 for appointment : I F 1210 E Columbia St -- Evansville 47711 I -.... .......... _ ...... ............ 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Jesus reached out especially to what would be called the underclass. He could promise them little improvement in this life but the concern of a loving Father who would eventu- ally see to it that wrongs were made right ih "the kingdom of God." Today we might add that it is the duty of those who have to help bring about that kingdom where the poor are empowered, the hungry have the means to feed themselves, where misery is alleviated, and where all individuals will be given the respect that is due to them as children of one Father. If we who live in modest comfort or even in the surroundings of luxury could transport our- selves into the slums and ghettos of America, into the cardboard boxes of the homeless poor of our cities, into the ravished farms of Pakistan Or the streets of Calcutta, we could better understand the meaning of Luke's four promises to the poor. The four corresponding woes or condemnations would move us to do our utmost to bring about the kingdom of God even here on:earth, where "he will wipe away every tear, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away," Revelation 21:4. Other readings for Sunday, Feb. 16: Jeremiah 17:5-8; I Corinthians 15:12, 16-20. Alex Haley 'like a Christ figure,' says Archbishop James Lyke By SR, MARY ANN WALSH Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS)- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alex Haley was "like a Christ-figure," Archbishop James P. Lyke of Atlanta said after the death of the author famous for "Roots: The Saga of an American Family." "A spirit of self-esteem a.nd liberation was at fever-pitch in the bones of our people," said Archbishop Lyke as he recalled Haley's 1976 epic work and the 12-hour TV miniseries based on it. The miniseries ran eight nights on ABC in 1977 and attracted millions of viewers. "It is amazing what God ac- complished through the gift of one man named Alex," said Archbishop Lyke, one of 11 active black Catholic bish- ops in the United States. "He (Haley) is a cherished and un- forgettable memory, and his work follows him into eter- nity." Beverly Carroll, director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Black Catholics, said Haley "raised the conscious- ness of many African-Ameri- cans about the importance of the voyage from Africa to America." "Roots," she said, "showed that African-Americans could overcome the hardships of the voyage itself, the cruelty of slavery on these shores, Jim Crow laws and current- day discriminatory prac- tices," yet still maintain "a spirit of hope and coura- geousness within a strong black family." "Many people were grate- ful" to Haley for putting African- American history into a context "so that our young people could relive such experiences," she said. Haley, 70, who also wrote "The Autobiography of Mal- colm X," died of cardiac ar- rest in a hospital in Seattle, the day before he had been slated to speak at Bangor Naval Submarine Base, 15 miles away. His fame from "Roots" was not without blemish, how- ever. Two copyright infringe- ment suits were filed against him. One was dismissed, but a second, brought by Harold Courtlander, who claimed Haley lifted a brief passage from a Courtlander novel, was settled out of court. Haley contended the passage came from "something some- body had given me." The blemish, however, could not overshadow the im- pact of the book nor the epic TV series and its sequel, "Roots: The Next Genera- tions." "I remember when 'Roots' was televised," Archbishop Lyke said. "African-American parishes were cancelling meetings and changing dates of parish events to watch it. Black families were tracing their heritage, and pride in our history and culture was felt and shared in superlative degrees." The part-fact, part-fiction story told Haley's own family story and began in 1750 with the birth of Kunta Kinte, who at 17 was taken as a slave to America. It ended with the death of Haley's father. Widespread praise greeted both book and series, but they also drew some criticism for lack of authenticity. The U.S. Catholic Confer- ence Office for Film and Broadcasting, however, said whatever the reservations, they are "minor compared with the strength of 'Roots' content. If nothing else, it succeeds in arousing a righ- teous sense of outrage at an age in which people enslaved their fellow human beings." The review added that "the script succeeds best in illus- trating the hypocrisy that ra- tionalized the system of slav- ery, justifying it as a means of 'civilizing primitive savages or bringing the blessings of Christianity."' Haley, a Protestant, spent 12 years researching his ge- nealogy and during a 1977 press conference in Detroit announced he had found Irish-Catholic roots in his family tree, during research in Ireland's County Mon- aghan. "It shook me to find out I was Irish," the African-Amer- ican said. "I couldn't feel Irish t( ave my soul." ,