4th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (A)
Sunday 29 January 2023
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
In every line of this discourse, Jesus begins with ‘blessed are [you]’. Makàrioi in the original Greek, this phrase means those who live in happiness, filled with all goodness and everything they could desire! This state of life appears surprising, contrasting as it does with what follows, in the real-life external conditions which determine it: poverty, weeping and mourning, hunger and thirst for justice, and persecution. ‘Poverty’ undoubtedly means the lack of material goods, but that’s not all: the Evangelist adds the words ‘in spirit’ to this beatitude, meaning the simplicity with which we react to adversity and every form of shortcoming that we encounter in life. These things, if welcomed and accepted with a righteous mentality, make us trust and depend on the providence of the Father.
The other four beatitudinal requirements – meekness, mercy, purity of heart, and the capacity to make peace – are all characteristics that we have to cultivate in ourselves. By doing this, we are able to overcome the struggles that assault us. Each problem is like a rock: if we leave it sitting on top of us, sooner or later it will squash us. But if we put it under our feet, it raises or lifts us up! According to Jesus’ discourse, today’s problem can be tomorrow’s victory, and that depends on us!
So, in this discourse, human criteria is turned on it’s head: who HAS doesn’t matter and is of no value. What counts IS BEING most similar to our Father in heaven!