Updated: Feb 2
“Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
From The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12
Several times in the scriptures we hear of those living in the world contrasted to those living in the Spirit. Of course, we are all living in this world and not in cloistered monasteries, but, as scripture states, our citizenship is to be found in heaven. This means that we are called to prioritize the values of our faith over those of “the world”. Today’s Gospel, the Beatitudes, illustrates this in a most profound way. The world gives great attention to those who have wealth, power and appear to be happy; the Beatitudes call us to seek to be poor in spirit, meek and remind us that we are blessed when we are mourning. The world tells us to be tough, do whatever we have to to get ahead and seek the esteem of others; the Beatitudes instruct us to have mercy on others, seek righteousness and not fret when others insult or persecute us for the sake of God’s kingdom.
One of the best descriptions I heard on the beatitude, “blessed are those who mourn” was the explanation that when we are mourning, we are weak and vulnerable. It is in our moment of grief and suffering that we need God’s presence more than ever. Thus, God blesses us with the Holy Spirit to comfort and console us in our grief and offer us the gift of hope. It is not that we seek to mourn or be sad, but when we are in the process of mourning, we are called to open ourselves up to receive God’s healing grace. We are called to not forget that those who have died, we pray, are now in a better place, in that great dwelling place that John described, which we all seek to approach when our own day of reckoning arrives.
In the first reading from the Prophet Zephaniah, the prophet predicts that after the great persecution endured by God’s chosen ones, only a remnant will remain faithful to the Lord. This faithful remnant is called to observe God’s commandments, to seek justice and humility. Today we are called to be that faithful remnant that seeks to follow the difficult pathway of the Beatitudes, even when that makes us be misunderstood and out of synch with many around us.