Today’s readings define our Christian goal of eternal happiness and explain the attitudes and actions necessary to reach it. In the Beatitudes, Jesus outlines the values and attitudes needed to enter and enjoy God’s kingdom: poverty of spirit, hunger and thirst for justice, compassion, meekness, mercy, integrity, peace-making, and the willingness to suffer persecution for the sake of justice. The Beatitudes contain the most essential aspects of Christian behavior that we need to make habitual if we are to live the truly Christ-like lives of loving obedience and compassion that He asks of all of us who believe. The Beatitudes spell out the personal qualities expected of a disciple of Jesus and the way of life to be lived by Jesus’ disciples. They show us the values that Christ cares about. In essence, the Beatitudes both fulfill and complete the Ten Commandments. While the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai, as recorded in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, provide a series of “Thou shalt nots,” Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense, as the virtues in life which will ultimately lead us to the rewards of salvation – not in this world, but in the next.
Zephaniah, in the first reading, calls the “moral minority” of the Jews of his time “blessed” because they seek justice, humility, truth, and righteousness, thus making a declaration of dependence on God. In the second reading, Paul advises his Corinthian Christians to use their gifts and Heaven-sent blessings for the good of the community because God has chosen to give them life in Jesus, by whom He justified, sanctified, and redeemed them. In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow, and persecution. In poverty, we recognize God’s reign; in hunger, His providence; in sorrow, true happiness; and in persecution, true joy. In other words, the “blessed” on Jesus’ list are poor in spirit, compassionate, meek, merciful, clean of heart, peace-makers, and those who are even willing to be insulted and persecuted for their lived Faith in Him.
Each of the inspired authors of today’s readings, Zephaniah, Paul, and Matthew, “makes a motion,” that each of us should consider making a personal Declaration of Dependence on God, and then work (with His grace) to lead holier, happier lives.
May your life be dependent… only on GOD!
Have a blessed week. Fr. Tom