MT 5: 1-12a




The chaplain used to start the school board meeting with the gospel and a short reflection. He usually applied the lesson of the reading to the current situations and challenges in the school. However, some people did not appreciate it when they thought the message was a critique of their actions. On one meeting, the president of the school told the chaplain to just begin the meeting with a short prayer, skipping the customary gospel reading and reflection.


Today we encounter the Lord Jesus in a powerful role, that of a preacher. He speaks of the heart of his message, the core of his teachings. He gives us the so-called Beatitudes. If you notice though, the ones who are blessed in the standard of Jesus are not the same as those the world considers fortunate. We find here the surprising, perplexing preferences of God.


How important is this teaching of the Lord today? Notice what happens first. Jesus ascends the mountain and then he takes a seat before preaching. This is reminiscent of Moses, Israel’s great and revered lawgiver who taught the people God’s law long ago. The Lord Jesus however, surpasses Moses in that his teachings are not intended to be carved in stone but to be enshrined in the heart.


Then listen to or read the gospel. You will notice how the words are carefully chosen, wisely delivered. God looks with favor on the poor, the sorrowing, those who pursue righteousness, the merciful, the clean of heart, etc. Beautiful words, but are they also easy and comfortable? Do you think you can live it up? Or do these words disturb you more than they console?


If the gospel consisted of cute phrases, titillating expressions, and user-friendly messages, how people would love to quote, share and absorb it in their lives. The Beatitudes however, are provocative, challenging us to think about our own values and to decide whether to receive and follow God’s values. Thus for many, the wisdom of the Beatitudes can easily be doubted, ignored and rejected. The teaching is not easy or convenient to apply to life.


Finally, read the gospel again at home this week. Read it alone and dwell on it. Do the teachings of the Lord on the Beatitudes appeal to you? Are you willing to try them? Will it be difficult to practice them? Do you want to apply them now or do you need time? Lord, just as Moses gave the people the law inscribed in stone, grant that your law will imprinted in our hearts… one step at a time. Amen.


#ourparishpriest 2023