Homily for the Fourth Sunday of the Year (A) (29th January, 2017) on the GospelZeph 2:3.3:12-13;
Ps 145:7-10 (R. Matt 5:3);
A person who was inspired by the Sermon on the Mount was Dr Tom Dooley. After graduating from medical school, Dooley enlisted in the Navy as a doctor. The big day of his life came one hot July afternoon off the coast of Vietnam. That’s when his ship rescued 1000 refugees who were drifting helplessly in an open boat. Many of the refugees were diseased and sick. Since Dooley was the only doctor on the ship, he had to tackle, single-handedly, the job of giving medical aid to these people. It was backbreaking, but he discovered what a little medicine could do for sick people like this. He said: “Hours later, I stopped a moment to straighten my shoulders and made another discovery – the biggest of my life. I was happy [treating these people] ... happier than I had ever been before.” Dooley’s experience that hot July afternoon changed his life forever.
Topic: You are blessed.
In today’s gospel, when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up the mountain, sat down and gave them a lesson on true blessedness (happiness). Those who make up the list are: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Jesus concluded His teaching with these words,
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.
This teaching of Jesus is often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes. The word beatitude is from the Latin word beatitudo meaning condition or statement of blessedness. Often the words, “Happy,” “fortunate,” and “favoured” are used to translate it, but none of these offers the full meaning of the word, beatitude. Supreme blessedness is also sometimes used.
As we go through the list of those who are supremely blessed as given by Jesus, were you able to find yourself anywhere – the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, or those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake? Whoever does not make this list in the end has missed everything because our homeland is in heaven, cf. Phil 3:20. Hence Jesus taught us,
...those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matt 16:25-26; cf. Mk 8:36; Lk 9:25)
However, we all who still live have the opportunity of including ourselves. The book of Revelation describes the uncountable great multitude from every nation, all tribes, peoples and languages standing before the throne of God in these words, “These are they who have come out of great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). And no robe is too dirty for the blood of the Lamb. His blood speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel, cf. Heb 12:24. We are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, cf. Eph 2:19. But all those who have hope of enjoying with the saints in heaven must purify themselves, cf. 1Jn 3:3. Let no one sell his/her birthright like. Although he was the firstborn, (cf. Gen 25:25) yet he lost his right because he sold it (cf. Gen 25:29-34). Be very careful. The right you have is beyond words, cf. 1Cor 2:9. Do not sell it for anything. God will not let anyone be tempted beyond his/her strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that one may be able to endure it, cf. 1Cor 10:13.
Bible Readings: 1Cor 2:6-16; Matt 16:24-28.
Thought for today: Live a blessed life.
Let us Pray: God, help us to achieve the true blessedness in heaven – Amen!
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 Fuller, G., Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, p.33.