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Fourth Sunday,Ord.A,Feb.3,02.Mt.5:1-12

4th Sund.Ord.A,Feb.3,02

All the readings in today’s Scriptures speak to us about the marvelous way in which God lifts up the poor and the humble to be carriers of his message and the symbols of His presence in the world.

In the first reading, the Prophet Zephaniah points out how God would choose a remnant of Israel, a most humble section of the people who would live out in their lives their absolute and irrevocable faith in the Lord to symbolize his presence in the world.

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians again highlights the same point. It is the humble and the foolish of the world that God has chosen to be the announcers of His kingdom. “ God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise. God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong."

These ideas get a clear focus when we come to Jesus as he begins to reveal the nature of His kingdom through the Sermon on the Mount.

The Sermon on the Mount is a radical call to a new way of life, a way of life that is so different from the ways that people are accustomed to. It is a call to take up the challenges of life in a direction opposite to the ways the world would teach us to adopt.

That is why commenting on these saying of Jesus, Bishop Sheen says that if any one puts into practice these Beatitudes, he would draw upon himself the wrath of the world. He further adds: “ The sermon on the Mount cannot be separated from His crucifixion….The day Our Lord taught the Beatitudes, he signed His own death warrant.”

In the Beatitudes, our Lord takes up all the catchwords of the world like, security, revenge, popularity, getting even, sex, armed might etc and reverses them. To those who want revenge, he says “Blessed are the patient”. To those who say , immediate enjoyment of the pleasures of life is everything, he says “Blessed are those who mourn and trust in the Lord”.To those who want to give unbridled expression to their sexual feelings, Jesus says, “Blessed are the clean of heart. To those who are bent upon becoming popular and yearning for the cheap crumbs of applause and congratulatory remarks, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men revile and persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely because of me”.

Let me quote Archbishop Sheen again : “ All false beatitudes which make happiness depend on self-expression, licence, having a good time , He scorns because they bring mental disorders, unhappiness, false hopes, fears and anxieties.”

Jesus wants us to conquer hatred with love. Jesus wants us to root out sin from the heart of man before it creates great storms and tempests in the lives of people. We have seen recently how hatred couched in a religious language and preached in distant lands has become a powerful force to shake the foundations of a civilized society, and how still it is a powerful force driving a lot of young people to engage in suicidal attacks. It is to counteract such acts of violence, hatred and greediness that Jesus wants us to adopt a new way of life.

The beatitudes are also a call to each one of us to rekindle hope in our lives and not to become victims of despair. Just because things turn out to be bad, because we have lost our financial insecurity, or something tragic or painful has happened in our family or because we are suffering from pain, it does not mean that we should allow ourselves to be victims of hopelessness or despair. To all of us suffering from one problem or another experiencing hardships or worries, Jesus reveals that those sources of pain are also sources of grace for us. We can use them to transform the nature of our lives because those are the crosses that will align themselves with the Cross of Christ to end in victory and glory. As St. Paul reminds us, when Jesus is with us, who can be against us.

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