HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THEME: THE BEATITUDES.
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE.
Being a follower of Christ demands a form of concentration that leads us to look beyond the transitory things of this world. To be happy and blessed in Christ’s terms require other credentials that are not oftentimes compatible with the things that we may ordinarily assume to be the source of happiness and joy. With the Beatitudes, Jesus calls His disciples to a higher and superior form of life that is radically and substantially focused on what matters; namely, Life with God. May our focus be on building a healthy relationship with God and with one another; Amen.
The Gospel Reading of today (Mt 5:1-12) presents us with the first part of the collection of Jesus’ teachings (Sermon on the Mount) in the Gospel according Matthew known as the Beatitudes. In this series of teachings, Jesus underlined what true happiness and blessedness entail. In summary, Jesus made it clear that for all those who take God as the motive for their actions, choices, thoughts and endeavours, God will surely reward them in one way or the other. Making God the motive of one’s actions, choices, thoughts and endeavours can sometimes fetch one some unpleasant experiences. This is very obvious in the list of the different states and conditions of life which Jesus revealed to us today that qualifies one to be blessed and happy in the sight of God. Some points in the list of the Beatitudes are naturally detestable to the human person. Nobody would ordinarily desire to be mournful, to be persecuted or to be abused. But these are realities which those who place God at the centre of their lives must be open to confront on a daily basis. The other points are some attitudes which we would naturally accord to those who relate to us in like manner. But Jesus requires us to be poor in spirit, gentle, merciful and peaceful to all, irrespective of people’s attitude towards us. The heroic nature of these virtues is that they are lived and practiced towards all; both the good and the bad just like God makes His rain and sun to reach both the good and the bad alike (Mt 5:45). With the challenges and erroneous attitudes that the contemporary society presents to us by promoting selfishness, materialism, hedonism, unforgoing and unforgiving spirit, revenge, etc, as the proper and fulfilling style of life, how is it possible to concretely live and practice the Beatitudes in our time?
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The Beatitudes remain essential guides for a fruitful Christian Life and a meaningful human existence. The single disposition that properly inspires living one’s life under the guide of the Beatitudes is making God the motive of one’s life. Consciousness of this fact changes the way one understands life and how one relates to life and to the bricks that life daily throws at us. Just like the normal bricks can be used to construct a very beautiful home, it can also be injurious to one’s body and cause severe pains. The difference is on how one receives and uses them. The secret of making God the motive of our life is in recognising our true identity as sons and daughters of God. It takes humility to truly recognise who we are and to give credit to those who made us who we are. In the list of those on whose generosity and graciousness we depended or depend for survival, God is the first, the Ultimate and the Foundation. Unfortunately, the contemporary human society that is increasingly growing secular is also dangerously growing slim in gratitude towards God; rather than seeing God as a loving and merciful Creator, it wishes to define God as an _Impostor_ and as one who undermines human flourishing and exploration of human potentials. Where there is no humility, gratitude can easily be replaced with malicious accusations and rebellion. Both the First and the Second Readings are heavily laden with instructions on humility and in reminding us how indispensable this virtue is for true human flourishing. In the words of Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), the humble and most simple are the ones chosen by God to confound those over estimate themselves; “it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning.” Likewise, in the prophetic notes God gave to His people through Zephaniah (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13), God made it clear; “Seek integrity, seek humility: you may perhaps find shelter on the day of the anger of the Lord.” It takes humility to find favour with God and even with fellow human beings. It takes humility to blossom from all fronts. The truly humble are those who can make God the centre of all they do. Such people are ultimately happy and blessed, even in the midst of the ups and downs of the theocentric nature of their life.
Lord Jesus Christ, the goal of our life is to be truly happy and blessed. Our human inclinations sometimes make us lose sight of the demands. May the power of Your grace at work in us keep us attentive and focused all the days of our lives; Amen. Happy Sunday;
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