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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Negotiating the Swirling Sea of Chaos

Sunday February 5th, 2017

A Reflection on Matthew 5:13-16 N.A.B.

By: Larry T

In verse 16 of the Gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus told his disciples, “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Jesus said to his disciples:
13 "You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
16 Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father."
-Matthew 5:13-16 N.A.B.

What does “glorify your heavenly Father” mean? And how should we go about it? Are we to stand, gaze skyward with arms raised, and recite the Lord’s Prayer fifty times a day? Or should we kneel eight hours a day and piously pray one rosary after another? Perhaps we could sit motionless hour after hour lost in the peaceful abyss of deep contemplative prayer. These venerable activities would certainly glorify God, but is this kind of endless adoration all that He wants from us, the subjects of His Kingdom, the Kingdom inaugurated on earth by His Son? No doubt, there are those among us, who would declare, rather disdainfully, that a God who simply wants people to adore him all the time is not a figure they can respect, much less worship.

Since the reading for this Sunday is at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10), the meaning of glorify your heavenly Father has to be understood in the Beatitude context, the code of conduct for the subjects of God’s kingdom on earth.

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 righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

How does God see me? When He looks at me who does He see? In a manner of speaking we present three images to the world: there is the image we have of ourselves, the way others see us, and the way God sees us.

Every morning I see a reflection of myself in the bathroom mirror; that’s how I see myself. I like that reflected image because the light fixture over the mirror uses old fashioned incandescent light bulbs and under that kind of light I look as though I have a nice tan. What’s more, if I turn and tilt my head just so - my grey hair looks darker and a little thicker; it makes me look a few years younger and I really like that! Who wouldn’t?

On the other hand, one day last week, while accompanying my wife on a shopping trip in a department store, I caught a glimpse of myself reflected from a full-length mirror. Whoa! I looked at least ten pounds heavier! And my hair was almost white and a lot thinner; I was much older looking than the man I had seen in the bathroom mirror that very morning. Hmmm, I guess that’s how other people see me, older and heavier - looking my age.

But then, how does God see me? In his book, True Self, Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk, writes:

"What we are-our identity-is only truly known to God-not to ourselves, not to other men. The greatest terror of the particular judgement is that, the moment after our death we instantly appear before the face of God and learn our identity-truly; we finally see ourselves as we really are! The measure of our identity, of our being (the two are the same) is the amount of our love for God"

We are all called to be holy and being holy means trying to be like Jesus; since the Beatitudes are a self-portrait of Jesus, they are our instructions on how to be like Him, and they are rules on how to conduct ourselves in God’s earthly kingdom, rules that when followed evaporate the swirling sea of chaos, which if unchecked could once again cover the earth.

At the final judgement, the amount of love which we have for God will be measured against how well we followed His commandments and lived the Beatitudes; it is how the obedient and willing subjects of His kingdom bring glory to Him.

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