bless us, o lord?
"He began to teach them." —Matthew 5:2
In Matthew's Gospel, today's reading of the Beatitudes is the first time Jesus teaches His disciples and us. Jesus, the great Teacher, knows a strong first impression and solid introduction are critical. So Jesus' initial teaching is something very important. His first teaching is about how to be blessed.
The word "blessed" that Jesus speaks in the Beatitudes can also be translated "happy" (see Mt 5:3-11). In the Beatitudes, Jesus guarantees happiness and blessedness. In today's culture, many books that promise happiness are big sellers. With such a large market for happiness, you'd think that Bibles would be flying off the shelves of bookstores, that Bible study groups on the Beatitudes would be standing room only, and parishes would have hundreds enrolled in RCIA programs each year.
This isn't the case. The logical explanation is that most people don't believe Jesus when He tells us how to be blessed and happy. It's as if people read the Beatitudes and think, "If being meek, sorrowing, and persecuted is how I have to live to be happy, then I'd rather not be 'blessed.' "
In what do we put more faith: the message of the secular culture or the message of Jesus? The prophet Elijah was persecuted by the government for his prophetic message and forced into hiding for years. Yet he was blessed, for God miraculously fed him each day (1 Kgs 17:6).
Don't live a half-life (see 1 Jn 3:14), settling "for what fails to satisfy" (Is 55:2). Have faith in Jesus (Jn 14:1). Live the Beatitudes.
Prayer: Jesus, may I never take Your place and try to manufacture my own blessings. Grace me to live daily the Beatitudes.
Promise: "Just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation." —2 Cor 1:7
Praise: Living in complete poverty gave Brother Jack a peace he'd never known before.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 18, 2013
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