Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12: Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 29, 2023

The Gospel of 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 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.”

Let us Pray: God our deliverer, you walk with the meek and the poor, the compassionate and those who mourn, and you call us to walk humbly with you. When we are foolish, be our wisdom; when we are weak, be our strength; so that, as we learn to do justice and to love mercy, your rule may come as a blessing. Amen.

The beatitudes introduce the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew places the Sermon at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, emphasizing that Jesus is the authoritative teacher of God’s people. Jesus explained the core of faith and its practice leads to true and eternal happiness and it begins with that realization and life itself teaches us this when we open our hearts to the Lord. Embracing the Beatitudes defines the path of our journey. In the context of Jesus’s desire for us, they are the attributes of Christ that we must assume in order to be whole. It might be enlightening if we could each of us look within ourselves and pick one beatitude that showed us who we believed ourselves to be. If we look carefully at Jesus’ words, however, we find that they are much more than moral generalities or mottos to live by. They are key principles of embracing this life. The beatitudes are first of all declarations of God’s grace. They are not conditions of salvation or roadmaps to earn entry to God’s kingdom.                                        Although the primary purpose of the beatitudes is to declare the blessings given by God’s kingdom, most scholars also regard them as painting a picture of the character of that kingdom. As we step into God’s kingdom, we hope to become more like those named as blessed, more meek, more merciful, more hungry for righteousness, more apt to make peace. This gives the beatitudes a moral imperative. Later, when Jesus says, “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), the beatitudes describe the character these disciples are meant to take on. The Beatitudes talk about how the Kingdom of God will bless the children of God that are using their life here on earth for the sole purpose of giving their lives in service to God. This reminds us that we don’t need to have all the earthly things here on earth to be happy, for God is with those who suffer the most. In the Gospel, it talks about how blessed are those who are poor and needy for they will have the kingdom of God in their next life. The truth is that we need to be living a good life here on earth to be given a chance to enter heaven. We need to cultivate our souls more by helping the sick, the needy, the abandoned because God is present in each and every one of us.Give your service to your fellow men, it’s an act of loving God through your neighbor. Living a holy life as what our saints did when they were still alive is not that easy. We need to make sacrifices and we need to face many obstacles upon our way to holiness. The only reason we have to survive is that God is the center of everything we do. Do not think of your own happiness, instead give a little glimpse of light to the people who most need our helping hands. A further grace of the beatitudes is that they bless God’s community, not just God’s individuals. By following Jesus, we become blessed members of the kingdom community, even though our character is not yet formed in God’s likeness. Individually, we fail to fulfill the characteristics of some or all of the blessings. But we are blessed nonetheless by the character of the entire community around us.

Let us Pray: O God, you spoke your word, and revealed your good news in Jesus, the Christ. Fill all creation with that word again, so that by proclaiming your joyful promises to all nations, and singing of your glorious hope to all peoples, we may become one living body, your incarnate presence on the earth. Amen.

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