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Holmily for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Angel Ochagavia - Way & Life - Sat, Jan 29th 2011

New Vision and Mission

Any school or institution will show at the entrance hall its VISION and MISSION.  This is what Jesus does at the start of his public life and ministry. He preaches for the first time and his message is different. Jesus speaks of persons, of those who are blessed. He is not talking about the important people who rule the world, he is not even referring to those who have studied in the best schools or attended all ceremonies in the temple.

Today we celebrate the 4th Sunday in Ordinary. It comes spontaneous for us to rejoice in the consoling message of the Beatitudes, proclaimed in the Gospel passage. The happiness of a person has usually been measured by the degree in which one achieves good results or arouses admiration. Mankind has always valued and exalted the strong, the beautiful, the successful. Conversely, the absence of strength, beauty, riches, success, and the like is considered a misfortune – a source of frustration, humiliation and suffering. Such has always been the prevailing scale of values in “the kingdom of man.” When Jesus came, he challenged and rejected this earthbound standard which condemns to hopelessness and frustration the majority of mankind.

Interpersonal relationships

Jesus seems to be very concern about interpersonal relationships. Blessed are the poor (so different from those who want to posses things and use them to distant themselves from others). Blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, the only way to build a fraternal society. Blessed are the merciful, those who create links among persons and make possible reconciliation. Blessed the peacemakers opposed to any kind of violence.

With his “Sermon on the Mount,” he turned upside down this shortsighted value system and opposed to it the values of the “Kingdom of God,” the opening set of which is enshrined in “The Beatitudes.”

These eight statements extol some of the revolutionary values of the Kingdom Jesus has come to establish. They contain a message of hope for all the afflicted. They are an invitation addressed to all to gaze beyond the dim horizon of human limitations, injustices, tragedies.

Way of Life

The Beatitudes have exerted a unique fascination on innumerable souls, including many who do not belong to the Christian denominations. They strike the readers of today just as they must have thrilled Jesus’ listeners when he proclaimed them for the first time. And yet, for all of us there is the danger that we take them for granted. We have read and heard them so many times. The sound is pleasing to the ear, but their message may fail to move our wills.

The Beatitudes do not seem to affect our attitudes and our lives. Some of us may have developed a very dangerous “immunity” against the principles enshrined in the Beatitudes. It was not so for the Christians of the first generations, as well as for the Saints of all centuries. For them, these eight simple pronouncements of Our Lord were a source of continuous inspiration and a challenge in their lives. The Beatitudes were to them what soil, rain, and sunlight are to a tree.  

Rooted in them and imbibed with their spirit, the Saints produced fruits of humility, mercy, purity, commitment, justice, fidelity, endurance, and hope. The Beatitudes have been for the Saints of all ages a WAY OF LIFE. What are they, for us, today?

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