Last week we read about the call of the disciples to journey with Jesus and to continue his mission after he is gone. We too have been called to do the same as the disciples of Jesus. Today we are being called to practice living out the beatitudes. The beatitudes were delivered by Jesus to his disciples on the mountain. This is soon after calling the disciples to follow him so that he will make them fishers of men and women. These beatitudes are not different from the Ten Commandments received by the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. They are the rules for true discipleship and supreme happiness in life. It is only those who live according to them that can be truly happy in life, says Jesus.
The antiphon of today said: ‘’save us, o Lord our God. And gather us from the nations, to give thanks to your Holy name and make it our glory to praise you.’’
The first reading said: Seek the Lord, seek justice, and seek humility. These are qualities expected of a true disciple of Jesus Christ and they are qualities that can bring true happiness in their lives.
The Psalm said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is theirs. It means realizing how poor we are in spiritual matters and desiring them from God. Poverty in spirit encourages humbly serve God and our neighbors. This is an attitude expected of true disciples of Jesus and when we possess such attitude were shall be truly happy in life.
In the second reading, Saint Paul said: God chose the foolish, weak, lowly, and despised of the world to shame the wise, strong, and the privilege people of the world. This means that worldly possessions and achievements are not capable of giving us true and lasting joy but heavenly riches are capable of doing so for us.
The gospel clearly explained the beatitudes as given by Jesus. It explain how seeking humility, justice, mercy, love, purity of heart, service to others, making sacrifice for the sake of God and our neighbors and so on are very rewarding to true disciples who are able to do so. Unfortunately, many people thing that worldly possessions and achievements are capable of giving lasting joy. But that is not true because worldly things can only give surface level happiness. We need to live our lives according to the beatitudes in order to experience true and lasting happiness in life. To be blessed means to be supremely happy in life. That is the kind of happiness Jesus promised his disciples if they practice the beatitudes.
The Ten Commandments are summarized into two commandments namely: love the Lord your God with all your strength and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself. That is exactly what the beatitudes are demanding from true disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus is emphasizing the benefits of being true disciples and practicing the beatitudes so that we can be encouraged to so. Therefore if you want to be a true disciple, truly happy and gain salvation please practice the beatitudes.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THE BEATITUDES ARE TRUE SOURCES OF HAPPINESS
We human beings have the natural tendency to be selfish-not willing to share with others our resources. Just like some
children often do refuse to share even with the person who had given them a gift. That is how many of us are. We find it difficult to share even with God who had given us all the gifts that we have.
In the first reading of today, Joshua demonstrated unwillingness to share and jealousy that the spirit of God was given to some elders who were not present at the tent of meeting where the spirit of prophecy descended on the 72 elders. He requested that Moses should stop them from prophesying. In the same way John was not ready to share ministry of healing with others and had requested that Jesus should stop those people who were healing in his name but were not following him. Both Jesus and Moses responded by encouraging the people to appreciate God’s generosity to others. God can give his gift to anyone he wishes to. God is not selfish like us humans rather he is very generous to everyone.
Moses said that he wished that everyone had the spirit of prophesy. That would be good for the people of God. Our desire should be that everyone receives blessings and spiritual gifts from God. Surely, God has blessed us abundantly but a few selfish and greedy people are denying majority of the people their rights and access to these blessings and to participate in ministry. How can you reconcile the fact that a few people are extremely rich while the majority of the people are living in poverty. This is so because the rich are hoarding these resources and are not willing to share with others. Most rich people got their wealth through evil means such as stealing, cheating, denying people their proper wages and so on in the name of business and being smart. We are given these resources and talents by God as stewards to share and serve others. What we do not know is that by sharing with others we gain more blessing and become qualified to enter the kingdom of God. Hence the saying that blessed is the hand that gives than the hand that takes.
The second reading talked about how the rich will cry because of their ill-gotten wealth which shall count against them on judgment day. Worldly riches will fade, be stolen, and become rotten, but spiritual riches will last forever. So, use material riches to get spiritual riches by sharing your resources with others. Store for yourself treasures in heaven where there are no thieves or rot that will destroy them. If you do not belong to a community or ministry, it means you are selfish with your gifts. If you do not have friends or visit or communicating with people, it means you are selfish. If you cannot forgive or reconcile with those who wrong you, it means you are selfish. Sometimes we are depressed because we do not want to share with others. By sharing your resources you gain peace and more blessings.
Jesus talked about allowing those healing in his name to be, for whoever is not against us, is for us. This suggests that we should welcome and allow others to share and participate in our community and the ministry of Jesus. He also urges his disciples never to mislead the little ones among them, for if they do, they will be punished. Sometimes we judge and condemn other as not qualified to belong or participate in our community, ministry or group. We have a responsibility toward children and vulnerable members of society; to share with them, lead and provide them mentorship so that they do not deviate from the right path. Furthermore, that we should avoid whatever leads us into sin in order to qualify to enter heaven. This means cutting off relationships, habits, and thoughts that lead us into sin and away from sharing our lives with others. For what shall be our gain if we gain the whole world and ruin our souls at the end?
TWENTY SIX SUNDAY YEAR B 2015