As they were sighting the destination of their long desert wandering Moses, as God’s prophet, reminded the people that it was not the end of their journey with God and to God. They would need to live not only off the Land God was giving them but also off the Holy Word which would be coming to them. The very first verses of the beautiful Book of Psalms capture that: ‘Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scorners but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his Law day and night.’
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! This passage of Scriptures applies to us too. Our Promised Land is called the Church. As we read the chapter six of St Luke’s Gospel we find Jesus ‘at a piece of level ground.’ That’s why what he said there is called the Sermon on the Plain. St Luke symbolically says that this is the fulfillment of what John the Baptist preached: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.’ St Luke, as he contemplates Jesus preaching on the plain, marvels at how the prophesy of the Baptist is unfolding. However it is not simply the geography that inspires the Author of the Gospel. From the landscape he moves his focus to ‘a large gathering of Jesus’ disciples with a great crowd of people’ and at the center of that gathering there is Jesus and the Twelve Apostles chosen just hours before.
The Plain where Jesus preached his sermon became the new Promised Land because there was Jesus, the Twelve, the disciples and a crowd of people. This new Promised Land is defined not by seas, deserts, rivers or mountains; it is defined by the people who are Jesus’ disciples.
This Promised Land, the Church, the gathering of Jesus’ Apostles and disciples, is where we are. We’ve got our Baptismal certificates, Confirmation certificates, Marriage certificates etc. We are in the Promised Land but it is not the end of our journey with God and to God. Jesus, like Moses, said to his listeners gathered on the plain about making a choice between the way of blessing and life and the way of cursing and death.
In order to appreciate Jesus’ sermon on the Plain let me tell you a story. It is about a woman and a man falling in love with each other. They were still young and studying. They didn’t have much money. But they loved each other. When they got married they experienced poverty, even they were hungry sometimes. There were also tears when they felt abandoned by their friends and relations. But at the deep level they were happy. They didn’t regret the hardships because they had each other, because they shared life.
When Jesus ‘fixed his eyes on his disciples’ he put together words the most people would never do: poor and happy, hungry and happy, weeping and happy, castigated and happy. But if we live in the Church as disciples for whom their relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in life we are like that young couple I mentioned before. We may suffer a lot but we have our Lord in our life and what a life it is.
St Catherine of Siena once said: ‘It is heaven all the way to heaven.’ Could we be surprised at that if Jesus is the way, the truth and the life?
My Dear fellow believers! Choose the Way. Choose the Truth. Choose the Life. Then it will be for you heaven all the way to heaven.