First Reading: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the Lord’s wrath.
For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord- the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
God is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
Then he began to speak, and he taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Reflection – Happy Attitudes
If you visit Galilee in the Springtime, you’ll see how beautiful it is; including the places where Jesus taught the crowds. One sunny morning on the hill of the beatitudes overlooking the lake, with the hill ablaze with flowers, it dawned on me what an eye Jesus had for the beauty of nature. The depth of his words on than occasion was matched by the beauty of his surroundings. What he said there was radical and paradoxical. How his listeners reacted to his words then is hard to say. What is our reaction to them today? Imagine a father or mother giving the beatitudes as advice to their teenage son or daughter as they set out to make their way in the world. Would we advise them to be detached from property, to be gentle, not competitive, to risk all on behalf of human rights and saving the environment?
How often we imply if we do not say to our children: “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts.” Whatever gentleness may achieve, it won’t help you climb the ladder of success. To succeed in business you must be pushy and aggressive and possibly ruthless as well. The attitudes Jesus calls blessed are the opposite to fierce competition. As St Paul says: “It was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones God has chosen.”
Those who lament the fewness of “practising Catholics” may have reduced this notion to attendance at Sunday Mass. There is no mention of that in the beatitudes. Jesus simply listed some qualities needed to enter the kingdom of heaven. These “happy attitudes” are the charter of the kingdom. They are ideals that are well-nigh unattainable. They are values to aim at, meant to help us moderate our lifestyles. History produces some people who incarnate these beatitudes, like a Francis of Assisi or a Mother Teresa, or some specially dedicated individuals that we may be privileged to know. As St Paul says, God has made us members of Christ, “who is our wisdom, our virtue, our holiness and our freedom.”