4th Sunday in Ordinary time
Zephaniah 2:3, 12-13
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
The start of Jesus’ public teachings begins with the words: Blessed are. These two words are the opening words for each of the nine Beatitudes that he proclaims in today’s Gospel. The Beatitudes speak to our hearts as his listeners: then, now and in the future, of we are to be – poor in spirit, gentle, mournful (not sad), hungry and thirsty for uprightness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted in the cause of righteousness and persecuted for our beliefs. These words (and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount) made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority (Matt 7:28-29).
The Beatitudes fly in the face of what the world around us is saying – be rich, strive to be number 1, seek out pleasure and self-gratification, do whatever you like, ‘I don’t care about you’, fake-it-until-you-make-it and send more tanks and weapons to Ukraine.
Which words do we really want to listen to? Jesus’ or Facebook / Netflix / TikTok / Instagram / the 6 o’clock news?
Now imagine being in the crowd, listening to Jesus’ words for the first time. The sighs of delight that come from your heart, and all around, can be heard as the words of blessing are repeated time and time again. ‘Yes, I am blessed despite of my …. (fill in the blank).’ The fruits of these blessings of the Beatitudes are Heaven, the earth / the good things as our inheritance, the comfort of God when we turn to him in times of trial, doing God’s will on earth as in Heaven, being loving and merciful and seeking real peace with God, our neighbour and our self.
Facebook et al. are full of empty promises and give us absolutely nothing when we follow them. Jesus’ words are not empty promises. They are his deepest desire for each of us. He is the Word-made-flesh who lived among us to bring the Good News that we are to follow with our head, heart, soul and strength.
Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.