Image by Joris Heise
The Good News for the Day, Sunday, January 29, 2023
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (70)
When Jesus observed the public coming to him, he went up on a hillside. When he sat down, his followers gathered round. He started:
How well off are people poor in spirit. They are part of the Other Realm;
How well off those who feel loss; they find comfort.
How well off are sensitive people, for, in the end, they win the world around them;
How well off those hungering and thirsting to make things right; they find satisfaction.
How well off those who show care to others; they find they are cared for.
How well off those with open hearts; their eyes look into God’s eyes.
How well off those who make peace happen; people see them as divine children.
Success happens when others ridicule those of you who are making things right. That is what the other realm is all about;
Success comes to you when others make you a joke, treat you mean and say nasty, mocking lies about you for doing things My way;
Smile and be happy—great is the wealth you are earning in the Other Realm. This is what people did to prophets before you” (Matthew 5)
Reflections of the Word of Jesus
In some ways this is the Great Good News. Jesus is not telling you what to do. These are not commandments,. Not rules you can follow or break. Not doctrines or even matters of conscience. They are a kind of summary of what makes you happy.
The Beatitudes on Reflection
You are poor in spirit – accepting the world and your life and everything as gift to be cherished.
And yet you feel loss – you know the value of things. You know you can’t keep things. Even parents and children come and go but they have enriched you.
And you are happy because you’re a person with inner calm. You are principled but sensitive to others, mild in your efforts, respectful in your dealings and so you radiate happiness.
You do not forget others. You’re happy because you want – you hunger and thirst for – the good of others. It is justice, equality, health, and each other person’s integrity that you truly want.
In other words, you are happy because you care. Not self-centered , you refrain from talking about yourself and your success. No, you are attentive, forgiving, and understanding.
And because you are not self-centered, you are pure of heart – candid, simple hearted.
You make peace. By being who you are, you make peace – by intervening or letting alone, listening first then responding, and looking people in the eye and smiling.
The Opposition to Be Expected
Yes, Jesus notes, your happiness will irritate others– both by who you are and by what you do. Some will laugh at you. Others will snub you. Still others will argue with you. And still others may attack you. Like water off a duck’s back, so goes their hostility.
The Importance Here
Much of the reason why this Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in particular are the core of following Jesus is what they don’t say. These are not commandments. This is not a list of sins. No doctrines here. It is no recipe to achieve salvation – or happiness even.
Jesus says He comes to fulfill the law. I would rather put it a slightly different way. Jesus comes to show the glow of love within law. He comes to reveal the truth of what is. His rare command is for us to wake up and see, to be alert and hear. He is offering the view of the world that God has.
God’s world is – it just is! Yes it is hidden under a layer, behind a cloud, and within a shell of a seed. With the eyes of God – a kind of X-ray vision, with the hearing of God – a kind of super hearing aid, the follower of Jesus sees and hears the world of spirit. You and I can see what others do not– the verb that makes the product, the tree growth needed to produce the fruit, the motive and heart that causes behavior.
In short, Jesus is providing a description of happiness, not the means to it.