4 Ordinary: 28/29 January 2023
Ho-hum many of us probably thought as I read the Gospel - and might have thought – here we go again with those Beatitudes. . . maybe even with a yawn.
I think the problem with the Beatitudes, this first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – is that we have heard them so many times – that we’ve probably never really stopped to think about them – and then have probably never really understood them. . .
In 2020, hard to believe 3 years ago now – Pope Francis gave a series of talks over the course of 3 months – when he explained in detail, the meaning of each of the Beatitudes.
Those talks are worth reflecting on and you can find them by putting: Pope Francis’ catechesis on the Beatitudes Into your computer’s search engine.
We don’t have time to go into a lot of the details that Pope Francis covered – so instead, I want to lead you through a guided meditation based on Pope Francis’ thoughts.
You may remember we did this a couple of year ago with another Gospel.
A guided meditation is a process where someone else – that would be me – leads you through a reflection –by making statements to get your mind and heart moving in a certain direction to achieve the purpose of relaxation – or a better understanding of a concept or idea.
So although you may be a little more relaxed or less stressed when we are finished – our goal is to achieve a better understanding of the Beatitudes.
So here we go. We start by closing our eyes and just relaxing: doing our best to release the tensions we all carry –by – Breathing in – and breathing out:
Trying to center ourselves in our hearts. And trying to open our ears and our hearts to listen attentively.
So we breath in – and breath out. Trying to think of nothing other than our breathing. And the peace that comes upon us.
Breathing in – and breathing out. Resting and relaxing in the presence of the Lord.
Breathing in and Breathing out.
And Jesus began to teach them by saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Gospel invites us to peer into the depths of our heart, to see where we find our security in life – so we can configure ourselves to Jesus who, though rich, made himself poor.
So we need to be responsible with our gifts of time and money – and be grateful for what God has given us - and share them generously with others.
Breathing in and out – resting in the Lord.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
The worldly person ignores problems of sickness or sorrow in the family or around them. We avert our gaze. The world has no desire to mourn; it would rather disregard painful situations or cover them up or hide them.
We must not ignore someone who could use our comfort this day. We must pay attention to the pain of others.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
These are strong words in a world where we constantly pigeonhole others on the basis of their ideas, their customs and even their way of speaking or dressing. Ultimately, it is the reign of pride and vanity, where each person thinks he or she has the right to think they are better than others.
Jesus warns us many times about judging others. Those who are meek accept others for who they are and where they are – and only then can love them into being better people.
Breathing in and out – relaxing in the presence of the Lord. Releasing our tensions and random thoughts.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Experience shows how easy it is to become mired in corruption, ensnared in the daily politics of this for that, where everything becomes business or political. How many people suffer injustice, standing by powerlessly while others divvy up the good things of this life?
We must use our power or position today - at either at work, in society, or in our families to make sure all people may be raised up to a new hope. Our eyes must be opened to the needs of others so that we do not benefit to the neglect or cost of others.
Breathing in and out – centering our hearts on the Lord. . .
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Be merciful, even as God is merciful. Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.
We must avoid, even in small ways, seeking revenge against someone who has wronged us. We must comfort those who labor and are burdened.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Nothing stained by falsehood has any real worth in the Lord’s eyes. God flees from deceit, and rises and departs from foolish thoughts.
We must not let our prideful or impure thoughts lead us to unloving actions. And we must all stand as living witness to truth, peace, and justice.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
We ourselves are often a cause of conflict – or at least of misunderstanding. For example, I may hear something about someone and go off and repeat it. I may even embellish it the second time around and keep spreading it. . .
And the more harm it does, the more satisfaction I seem to derive from it.
We should always use our words to build people up – rather than tear them down. For spreading gossip causes conflict and misunderstanding - and if we do it for our own benefit or pleasure: it is sinful.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven.
In living the Gospel, we cannot expect everything will be easy, for the thirst for power and worldly interests often stands in our way.
We must not neglect our call to holiness in favor of an easier way of living. When others treat us unfairly – we should not allow ourselves to become bitter or lash out in anger or defensiveness.
So we open our eyes - and end by praying:
Lord Jesus - you have given us these Beatitudes as a way of focusing ourselves: our thoughts, our words, our actions – on the kingdom of heaven.
May the prayer we have engaged in here - always effect the way we live our lives when we leave this place. We ask this in your name. AMEN!
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