November 1st, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (5:1-12a)

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. 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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord God, teach my heart to beat in symphony with this message from your heart.

Encountering Christ: Jesus said to his disciples, “Get up, go ahead, do something, move.” To me this reflects Jesus’ words and teachings much more accurately. I can hear him saying: “Get your hands dirty to build a human society for human beings; otherwise, others will torture and murder the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.” Christianity is not passive but active, energetic, alive, going beyond despair. The beatitudes mean deeper mercy for those who experience more divisive misery, deeper blessings for those whose hope is dimmest. They give an ultimate authority to certain people and their plight in the world. They signify not just a religious attitude, but a social attitude toward realities that should not exist among humans.

The Beatitudes are blessings but are we listening? Notice that Jesus begins with blessing. Blessing, not judgment. Blessing, not terms and conditions. Blessing, not penance. Jesus starts his ministry by telling the disciples who and what they already are: they are blessed. Blessed, fortunate, privileged, favored. Why? Because they are near and dear to God’s heart. Whatever else Jesus’ first followers go on to learn or accomplish in the future is merely the outgrowth of what is already their ground-of-being, their identity, their solid-as-a-rock foundation. God gifts their identities to them, without condition or measure. They are freely blessed, and so they’re freed to bless others.

What does this mean for us? It means we’re not God’s nine-to-five employees, working for blessing as our compensation. We don’t endeavor to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly to earn God’s blessings. We do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly because we are always and already blessed.

Fr. Richard Rohr says, “Jesus preaches a social order in which true charity is possible, a way of relating by which cooperation and community make sense. Jesus offers a world where all share the Spirit’s power “each according to their gift.” And that “Spirit is given to each person for the sake of the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). That is the key to Christian community and Christian social justice. It is not a vision of totalitarian equality, nor is it capitalist competition (“domination of the fittest”). It is a world in which cooperation, community, compassion, and the charity of Christ are paramount—and to which all other things are subservient. The “common good” is the first principle of Catholic social doctrine—although few Catholics know it.

I want to share this called the “The Seven Beatitudes of Growing Faith” by David Nash.

Blessed are those who have daily dialogue with God.
Their faces will shine like the sea.
Blessed are those who depend upon the Lord.
They shall throw away their crutches.
Blessed are those whose faith moves them to compassion.
They will warm our hearts and teach us to love ourselves.
Blessed are those who persevere.
Their courage will give us hope; their patience will calm our fears.
Blessed are those who trust in the living God.
Their joy in worship will light our path.
Blessed are those whose love of the church reveals deep faith.
They shall see the living God.
Blessed are those whose faith erupts in mission.
Their witness will show us the power of God.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, I can only accept these challenging beatitudes and aspire to them because they come from you, please continue to rain down your grace on me so I can be blessed!

Action of the Day: Today is All Saints Day. Go out and do what our ancestors have done. Remember, weare all sinners working towards sainthood.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

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