Friends, our Gospel for today is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, less well-known than Matthew’s but actually punchier, more to the point. It all hinges on detachment, that decisively important spiritual attitude—apatheia in the Greek fathers, indifferencia in Ignatius of Loyola. Spiritual detachment means that I am unattached to worldly values that become a substitute for the ultimate good of God.

How bluntly Luke’s account puts things! Look at Luke’s first beatitude, a model for the rest: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.” What if we translated this as, “How lucky you are if you are not addicted to material things.” When we place material things in the center of our concerns, we find ourselves caught in an addictive pattern.

Because material goods don’t satisfy the hunger in my soul, I convince myself that I need more of them to gain contentment. So I strive and work to get more nice things—cars, homes, TVs, clothes—and then I find that those don’t satisfy me. So I strive and strive, and the rhythm continues.

Therefore, how lucky I would be if I were poor, unattached to material goods, finally indifferent to them.

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