Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 29.01.23
Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow @ 8.30am
St. Matthew brings us the lesson of the beatitudes. Two thousand years later the agenda set by the Beatitudes still challenges the norms and values of society. In each beatitude, Jesus takes a core value of the world and turns it on its head. Some versions of Matthew use the phrase “happy” when it comes to each beatitude, I much prefer the word “blessed”. Blessed are all of us, joining our Mass through the Cathedral Parish Webcam, here in person or tuning in through the Parish Radio because the mercy of God is within our grasp and so we pray …
It was in Sweden at the end of his ecumenical trip in 2016 that Pope Francis gifted the church with six new beatitudes to help us in our journey of faith:
Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart.
Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness.
Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.
Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
The Pope was following in the illustrious example of his predecessors, the late Pope Emeritus Benedict who gave us the powerful tomes on ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and St. John Paul II who introduced us to the Luminous Mysteries – the Mysteries of Light.
Catholic Schools Week has just concluded. A week when we endorse and celebrate all that is Catholic about our local school. In a time and a context where faith schools are challenged on every front.
The Beatitudes from St. Matthew (Chapter 5:1-12) introduce us to Jesus the Teacher. Jesus understood his disciples only too well, they would be swayed by the crowds, they would be enticed by the miracle man, they would be caught up in the euphoria. So he calls a halt to their gallop and sits down to teach them. Like all students, the disciples must first must learn the syllabus, cover the curriculum, the assignments will come at a later date.
I think Pope Francis in his Petrine Ministry is deepening that teaching, that understanding, that buy-in expanding the Beatitudes. These verses and his few additions in Sweden form the mission statement, the vision he has for our Church today. To understand the poor in spirit, to affirm the gentle, to comfort those mourning, to feed the hungry and slate their thirst, to encourage those who forgive, to be chaste, to be a person of peace, to be unjustly accused, to be persecuted. And then those six new ones: to forgive, to welcome the stranger, to see God in everyone, even the most insignificant, to care for this earth we live in, to be less concerned with our own comforts and to pray for the unity of all Christians, all people of faith.
I wonder as the longest month of the year ends this week and we celebrate Brigid, like never before, may we find in these beatitudes and in the newer ones a mandate to really be Christ to one another. Let us see Him first thing in the mirror and then in everyone we meet. Amen.