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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The beatitudes which Jesus teaches us today are a passage of the gospel which is particularly worth meditating on and praying about.
When we first hear Jesus speak he is describing those sitting around him. The beatitudes are what he sees. It's what he sees when he looks at us too, gathered in this Church. Poor in Spirit, gentle, mourning, hungering for justice, perhaps persecuted and please God pure in heart and peacemakers. The more we read and listen though the more we realise that Jesus is also talking about himself. The beatitudes are a portrait of Jesus; they speak of the mystery of Christ, of the Son of God who reveals himself in poverty, meekness, purity and in his suffering on the cross.
So the beatitudes become instructions for the Church and for each of us, revealing to us, in our different situations how we follow Jesus our Saviour, the Word of God, and how we reveal the Word of God in Our lives.
Poverty of Spirit
To look at just two of the beatitudes, the Poor In Spirit. There had been growing in Israel the idea, which you still get in some religions even today, that the righteous, the faithful prosper and get rich, whilst poverty is the punishment for a bad life. But when the Babylonians invaded and exiled the people of God that understanding was no longer possible. With even the faithful and good reduced to poverty a realisation grew that whilst abject poverty is an evil, no one should starve and we should alleviate such poverty, on the other hand riches and comfort can lead to arrogance, selfishness and pride. The prophets in Israel began to see what Jesus teaches; true poverty of spirit is the entrance to God's kingdom. To stand before the Lord in need, with nothing, to open our hands to him , to depend on him alone, this is the attitude of trusting love that grows from being truly poor from knowing we cannot rely on what we have. It's not an easy attitude for those who are rich. Jesus says again and again, the Son has nothing except what the Father gives him.
Blessed are those who mourn
Those who mourn are blessed. This is not the mourning of those who have lost hope in life and in God but the mourning that comes from the encounter with Divine love revealed in Jesus. We see it in St Peter when having betrayed our Lord, he meets his gaze, dissolves in tears and then repents and begins again. We see it in a different way in Mary Our Mother and the tiny few gathered at the foot of the cross. They are helpless, they can do nothing about what is happening, but they suffer with Jesus, they do not harden their hearts to those who are suffering. In a small way it's the same when you see pictures of families and children in war torn parts of the world, or refugees drowning on capsized boats, when we mourn at such sights we are suffering with others and so are close to Jesus suffering for us on the cross. And then there is mourning in the face of sin and evil, my own sin and the sin of the world. Like Jesus shedding tears over Jerusalem because they would not repent.
Those who mourn will be comforted; those who are poor will have the kingdom of heaven. In each case it's because by being poor, by mourning you are like Jesus you are doing what Jesus did and to be like our lover, the one we love, is already a joy in this world, (even if those who don't love him can't understand it or find it shocking), and that joy will, we know, be fulfilled when we are with him forever.