Like Jesus’ proclamation in the synagogue, Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” in the Gospel of Luke addresses his special concern for those who suffer social injustice. Jesus says that the poor, the hungry, and the persecuted should “rejoice and leap for joy.” He identifies those who are poor, hungry, and persecuted with prophets who were sent by God to call the people back to the covenant. Those presently suffering poverty will inherit the kingdom of God, their hunger will be satisfied, and those weeping will experience joy. Jesus warns those who are distracted by their present fortunate circumstances: do not neglect those who are suffering injustice. He encourages them, instead, to fulfill the demands of the covenant for otherwise, he announces, the rich “have received [their] consolation;” those who are sated “will be hungry;” and those who are laughing “will grieve and weep.”
Upon announcing the preferential option for the poor and leveling a challenge to those who are distracted or otherwise preoccupied with their material possessions, Jesus provides a blueprint for what meaningful discipleship looks like: love your enemies; be nonviolent; give generously to all who ask; forgive; be merciful. In short, Jesus characterizes discipleship as doing justice. This vision for discipleship evokes the theme of Catholic social teaching “Solidarity,” which describes every person as a member of the “one human family,” called to care for their brothers and sisters. We have a responsibility to create, promote, or otherwise facilitate the development of the common good for all in order to ensure the viability of every person’s basic human rights and human dignity.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Religious Studies
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.