Matthew 5; 1-12. Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. January 29th, 2017.
Today in our Holy Gospel we hear the teaching of the Beatitudes from our Blessed Lord. The Beatitudes are the very conditions Jesus lays down for entering the Kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes take the negatives commands of the Ten Commandments-“Thou shall nots,” and they elevate and present these demands of Jesus on his followers in a positive way, “Blessed are they who do these things.” For the fullness of love of God consist not merely avoiding things, like sin but in doing things, in backing up our words of love with deeds of love.
The Beatitudes are a promise of salvation that extends, not to just to particular kinds of persons, such as the poor or rich, but to everyone whose religious dispositions of heart and moral conduct meet these great demands of Jesus. In other words, salvation is promised to all of those who are poor in spirit, who are meek, who mourn, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, are merciful, pure in heart, are peacemakers and those who suffer in their search for holiness. And so these differing demands of the Beatitudes cover everyone, no matter what their position in life might be, every one who wants to be a true disciple of Christ and inherit His promise of Salvation, which is union with God forever.
Yesterday hundreds of thousands of our youth gathered in Washington D.C. for annual the March for Life. The March for Life is an event that I wish all of you could experience. This event and others like it, remind us how our love for Jesus must move us to protect, defend and witness publicly to the dignity and the sanctity of the life of every human person from conception until natural death. And how we must beg our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist for the graces desperately needed for the reconversion of our country and our world. Only when more Catholics do these acts of love before the Holy Eucharist will we be able to defeat the Culture of Death, and turn it into a culture of life, a culture at peace, where we are all truly blessed.
Perhaps, we can better understand the Beatitudes if we compare them to that corresponding “spirit of the world,” that places it self in opposition to the Spirit of Christ. Included in this “spirit of opposition,” is those attitudes of individuals which lead to the “culture of death,” which is sadly so prevalent in our world today.
1) Where Christ advocates poverty-being poor in spirit, the opposing spirit of the world and it’s culture of death in the world despises the poor. Here we are speaking not just despising the physically poor but also and especially the spiritually poor. Our world currently canonizes those who are rich and famous, movie stars, politicians and sports figures, no matter how they live their lives. Our world seeks not to be poor it spirit, but instead seeks the richness of power—power to control others.
2) Blessed are the meek. Where Christ praises gentleness always seeking the good of others by serving instead of being served, the world belittles meekness and extols those who succeed; those who succeed by using or removing anyone, even through murder, that stand in their way; by destroying the goodness in others and using people merely as means to get what they want. The cry of the “spirit of the world is not Servium, but instead Non-Servium! I will not serve Christ, I will not serve Him by serving others; I wish instead for others to serve me!
3) Blessed are those who mourn:--Where Christ encourages mourning and sorrow for our sin which leads us to penance as a way to at least try to atone for sin in order to show God we are sorry.-- the world instead revels in pleasure, comfort and the noise of empty laughter. The world here refuses to see the suffering in this world, and even war, as a consequence of sin and so it refuses to repent of its crimes, seeking forgiveness and so God’s mercy and the grace to amend one’s life and so return to God.
4). Where Christ promises true Joy only to those who seek justice and peace by seeking holiness, that is to those who accept the truth and strive to conform their lives to it, instead the world and it’s culture of death offers satisfaction in the enjoyment and pleasure of sin and so living one’s life in accordance to errors and lies.
5) Where Christ bids us forgive and show mercy to those who have offended us, to forgive just has the Heavenly Father does to our offenses when we ask for forgiveness; the world for it’s part will not let go of the past, it seeks vengeance, and its law courts are filled with demands for retribution. It wants license to do what it wills, but it is quick to condemn those who fall.
6) Where Christ blesses those who are pure of heart and promises that they alone shall see God, the world scoffs at chastity, makes a mockery of purity and makes a god of sexually immorality. It seeks not the purity of righteous life in Christ but the impurity of the anti-christ.
7) Where Christ tells the peaceful that they shall be rewarded, the world teaches just the opposite in constant rebellion, disobedience, violence and massive preparation for war. It seeks peace, not in the will of God but in the will of the people, which really means the will of the one who controls the people.
8). Where Christ teaches the incredible doctrine of accepting persecution and resignation to God’s Holy Will. The world dreads nothing more than criticism, rejection and loss of human respect; it seeks acceptance by society and by one’s peers and what ever leads to it as the moral norm without any concern for what God thinks and for God’s Holy Law.
In all of this we come to understand that striving with the help of God’s grace to live the Beatitudes is the only way to sanctity, and true happiness and the fullness of life. The Beatitudes are Jesus’ promise that there will be no obstacle to happiness and joy for those who truly seek to follow Him; to follow Him not just in sweet words, but most especially in deeds. He says to us, even if men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account, instead of sorrow, rejoice and be glad, your reward will be great in heaven.
Just as nothing on earth can give us the happiness that every man seeks, if we are united to God nothing can rob us of it. Our happiness and our fulfillment come from God alone, the God who became man to share in our human existence, to share in both the happy and sad moments of our life, to even share in our suffering and our death. The Second Vatican Council put it this way, “Oh you who feel the weight of the cross bear more heavily on you! You who are poor and forsaken, you who mourn, who are persecuted for the cause of justice, you who pass silently by, who suffer pain unknown to others, take heart---You are the best loved in God’s kingdom, the kingdom of hope, of goodness and of life. You are brothers of the suffering Christ, and together with him, if you wish, you can save the world.” (Second Vatican Council, Message to Humanity. To the poor, to the sick, to all those who suffer. 6)
When in our search for happiness we men attempt to follow other ways, other than those willed by God—other than those marked out by the master, we instead find only loneliness and sadness. In other words, apart from God and His ways, there is no lasting happiness, but only loneness and death, the source of our current culture of death. Contrastingly, those who trust in God and humbly pray to Him especially during times of despair and anguish move His divine heart to compassion—God then accompanies them in every instant of their lives.
Even in times of great distress, natural disasters and wars, the person that turns to God’s ways and walks humbly in His paths of righteousness, discovers the loving face of God before him. Before God’s continence this man joyfully discover that God never abandons those who love Him, but guarantees that, notwithstanding trials and tribulations, in the end good always triumphs over evil, life over death; in other words all things work out for the best, for those who love God.
Let us turn to our dear Heavenly Mother for help…
Holy Mary, Mother of the beatitudes, at the end of our life, we will be judged on our love. Pray for us so that we may be blessed in the eyes of your Son and receive the reward of eternal life. Help us in faith to see the source of our eternal happiness and so our Eternal Beatitude is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. You told us at Fatima that by coming with faith on bended knee before this God hidden in the little white Host, and adoring and loving Him there, we could bring peace upon the earth. So help us dear Lady, to live your Message of Fatima, which is the message of the Gospel, all the days of our life, and so turn our culture of death into a culture of life by praying for the conversion of poor sinners everywhere, those in our own homes and in our own families, most especially that sinner who looks at us each morning in the mirror. Amen.