Sunday November 1, 2015
A Reflection on Matthew 5:1-12A, N.A.B.By: Larry T
How can we define Christian spirituality? In his book, A Guide to Today’s Spirituality, Father Richard J. Hauser, S.J. wrote: “At the heart of Christian spirituality is an adequate understanding of the self. Spirituality is our effort with grace to become what we have been created by the Lord to be; we must grasp who we truly are in order to know what we are to become.” Does being spiritual and being holy mean trying to be like Jesus? The answer is yes; the more we become like Jesus, the more we approach what we were intended to be.
If we define spirituality as becoming like Jesus, our spiritual formation probably started when we first began to learn about the Bible; as early as when we were taught the Golden Rule as small children. And, even though we might not have realized it, the process of becoming more like Jesus continued as we heard and understood more about him from the Gospels.
The Beatitudes present us with a self-portrait of the Lord; it’s here where Jesus tells us how to become more like him.
1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 He began to teach them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
- Matthew 5:1-12A, N.A.B
Jesus wasn’t content to give us a Beatitude to-do list; he showed us how to live the Beatitudes.
When was Jesus poor in spirit (humble)? 3Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,4each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. 5Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, 6Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 7Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, 8he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:3-8
When did Jesus mourn? 37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! – Matthew 23:37
When was Jesus meek? 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5“Say to daughter Zion,
‘Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. 7They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them.
– Matthew 21:5,-7
When did Jesus hunger for righteousness? 15 They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 16He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. 17Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’? But you have made it a den of thieves.” – Mark 11:15-17
When was Jesus merciful? 14When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. – Matthew 14:10
When was Jesus clean of heart? 8Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”10At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! – Matthew 4:8-10a
When was Jesus a peacemaker? 49His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” 50And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. – Luke 22:49-51
When was Jesus persecuted for the sake of righteousness? 15They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. – John 19:15-18
When was Jesus insulted and persecuted falsely? 1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. 2And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, 3and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly. – John 19:1-3
If we were to choose one word to describe Jesus’ Beatitude message it would have to be love - the true core of Christianity. But, how does Christian love mesh with our modern world or with any society since His crucifixion, death, and bodily resurrection?
Mankind’s first sin against God was the arrogant presumption of self-sufficiency which prompted him to put on airs of divinity, to be his own god. Setting God aside in this fashion seemingly permits us to possess life completely, to gulp every last drop of what it has to offer. Nevertheless, yielding to this temptation remains the greatest spiritual danger we face.
Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012. When I heard of her tragic death I thought, what could have possibly caused this beautiful, talented woman to reach for drugs. Didn’t she have everything in life that she could possibly want? What happened to Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi, and Robin Williams? Ignoring the possibility of mental illness, is it possible that they struggled with the desolation of not giving and receiving Christian love – a Godless existence?
The Beatitudes do run counter to our self-seeking culture, as they have to all cultures since they were first preached by Jesus, but they lead the way to richness of life and the greatness of our calling as spiritual citizens of the Kingdom of God.