Fr. Paul MacNeil
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Gunther
A long time ago, Moses went up a mountain and received the Ten Commandments. Note that back then, when Moses went up the mountain no one was allowed to go with him.
But in today’s Gospel reading, we hear that Jesus, unlike Moses, goes up the mountain and invites his disciples to join him.
A new level of relationship has occurred God has invited us closer. And we accept this invitation by following his teachings of the Beatitudes given to us at the Sermon on the Mount.
The Beatitudes are one of the most familiar texts of the New Testament. They are the framework for the whole of Jesus’ public ministry. They are the core of what he expects from us his disciples.
Note that each beatitude identifies a situation that is rewarded by God through a blessing.
If we truly are followers of Christ as we claim in our Mission Statement then it is our responsibility as disciples to live the instructions he provides in this Gospel reading.
By our actions we make the kingdom a reality right now. And demonstrate, or in other words, evangelize to others a vision of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
The Beatitudes guide us to a life of justice, of love, and of compassion in our relationships with both God and others.
Now it’s easy to get lost in the images of the Beatitudes and lose sight of their challenges. They can sometimes be difficult to understand.
For example … mourning … the passing of someone is painful but we know that it only happens if we loved the person we are mourning for.
Meekness and cleanliness of heart are not values we see on the typical television show these days.
Mercy does not seem to play a big part in our current world affairs where vengeance and greed and power seem much more common.
But Jesus teaches us a better way, a way to be happy.
The happiness spoken of in the Beatitudes is God’s gift of blessing granted to those who choose to be disciples.
In the 1600s … the Catholic Theologian Blaise Pascal wrote: “Everyone without exception is searching for happiness.”
At the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reveals the secret to happiness.
If we want happiness, we should follow his teachings. Of course, to be happy we all want to live in peace. We want no more wars or arguments. We want peace among nations and among family members. We want to have peace within ourselves.
Each one of us can help bring peace to the world by treating our own friends and family members fairly.
By not starting fights and arguments. By being peacemakers when at all possible.
During this Mass when together we pray the Our Father and say the words “Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
We are praying for justice and peace in the kingdom right now right here on earth.
In the Gospel Jesus also described what kind of people belong to that kingdom. Those who depend on God, who grieve, who are humble, who obey God, who are merciful, whose hearts are pure, who make peace. And those who are treated badly for doing what is right.
The lowly shall be raised. That theme runs throughout Scripture and can give hope to people who suffer. We all know someone who needs to hear a message of hope.
It might be a troubled teen or someone who has lost a job or someone who is chronically ill.
Today perhaps help one person in your family or community who feels discouraged or depressed.
Perhaps you know a senior who’s lost a spouse. Console them by sending a card or inviting them out for coffee. Your attentive presence can help lift their spirits.
In the Gospels we quite often see Jesus interact with crowds, usually made up of a mixture of humanity. Because Jesus brings the Good News to all people regardless of their status, beliefs, lifestyle, bad habits or addictions. God pours his blessings down on them.
The beatitudes remind us that God loves all humanity not only those who do right but also those who do wrong.
Which reminds me. When I was ministering to the inmates at the Niagara Detention Centre, I found that many of the men grieved over the thought that they could never be forgiven for their sins. That they would always have to carry that burden.
A lot of them had grown up in environments where mercy and forgiveness were just not a part of their upbringing.
But as I explained to them that if they were truly repentant for the sins they committed, they could ask God for forgiveness. And our merciful God would forgive them.
I would preface this with the understanding that when they were again on the outside, that they would go for reconciliation with their priest as soon as possible.
We are so blessed that God loves all humanity including sinners and the outcasts.
When Jesus proclaims whom, he considers “blessed” notice that the strong and the proud are not listed. The powerful are absent.
Jesus says the blessed ones are the humble and lowly and the faithful who pursue justice.
In closing, I’d like to share a wonderful reflection on the Beatitudes written by Sister Joyce Rupp:
“It’s almost impossible to believe we will feel joy again when we are in the throes of immense loss. And yet the day comes when little slivers of joy slip in between the cracks of our broken heart. In the same way it is difficult to believe the beatitudes of Jesus that those in tough personal, economic and social conditions will have something better than what they now have. Jesus expressed hope because he looked to what can change injustice. He saw the kingdom of love. Jesus longed to have us believe a world of justice is possible if we live with integrity and become loving in the ways he taught. He wanted us to trust that our efforts would eventually bear fruit. Let us ponder today how we can live in a way that contributes to this hope”.
My friends … all are welcome around the table of the Lord.
Whatever our circumstances in life, well off or poor, successful or not, healthy or suffering, we are truly blessed …
If we love God …
love others …
and follow Christ.
God bless you.