DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY:
Gospel of Monday, 10th week of Ordinary Time.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
GOSPEL COMMENTARY ON THE BEATITUDES
FROM POPE FRANCIS
- The revolutionary power of the Beatitudes
It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! Jesus proclaimed them in his first great sermon, preached on the shore of the sea of Galilee. There was a very large crowd, so Jesus went up on the mountain to teach his disciples. That is why it is known as “the Sermon on the Mount”. In the Bible, the mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself. Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses. What does he tell us? He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.
In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love, the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us. We face so many challenges in life: poverty, distress, humiliation, the struggle for justice, persecutions, the difficulty of daily conversion, the effort to remain faithful to our call to holiness, and many others. But if we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.
The Beatitudes of Jesus are new and revolutionary. They present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom. A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, “losers”. What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others.
Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path (cf. Jn 6:67). Simon Peter had the courage to reply: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). If you too are able to say “yes” to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.
- The courage to be happy
What does it mean to be “blessed” (makarioi in Greek)? To be blessed means to be happy. Tell me: Do you really want to be happy? In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and “thinking small” when it comes to the meaning of life. Think big instead! Open your hearts! As Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati once said, “To live without faith, to have no heritage to uphold, to fail to struggle constantly to defend the truth: this is not living. It is scraping by. We should never just scrape by, but really live” (Letter to I. Bonini, 27 February 1925). In his homily on the day of Piergiorgio Frassati’s beatification (20 May 1990), John Paul II called him “a man of the Beatitudes” (AAS 82 , 1518).
If you are really open to the deepest aspirations of your hearts, you will realize that you possess an unquenchable thirst for happiness, and this will allow you to expose and reject the “low cost” offers and approaches all around you. When we look only for success, pleasure and possessions, and we turn these into idols, we may well have moments of exhilaration, an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately we become enslaved, never satisfied, always looking for more. It is a tragic thing to see a young person who “has everything”, but is weary and weak.
Saint John, writing to young people, told them: “You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn 2:14). Young people who choose Christ are strong: they are fed by his word and they do not need to ‘stuff themselves’ with other things! Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy! Say no to an ephemeral, superficial and throwaway culture, a culture that assumes that you are incapable of taking on responsibility and facing the great challenges of life!
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: CAN THE BEATITUDES MAKE YOU A HAPPY PERSON?
In today’s gospel reading and in the next two weeks, the Sermon on the Mount will be the focal point of our reflections. The Beatitudes start off Jesus’ discourse. “It begins with the word “Blessed.” In the Bible, it is the same as “Happy.” They are interchangeable. But reading the Beatitudes gives one a sense that it can, indeed, be a very demanding way of life: poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, justice, mercy, purity of heart, peace and endurance in persecution.
TOPIC 2: CAN YOU ACHIEVE TRUE HAPPINESS?
In the Bible, the words “Happy” and “Blessed,” depending on the version, are used to describe the 8 beatitudes. The first four beatitudes (poor in spirit, mourn, meek, and hunger and thirst for righteousness) describe a person’s heart in one’s relationship with God. The other four beatitudes (merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and the persecuted) is a person’s disposition in one’s relationship with others. These are really the secrets of holiness and are our ticket to heaven. Happiness, for many of us, is unreachable. We may have spurts of it but true happiness that is characterized by peace of mind, contentment and a calm disposition that goes beyond our human conditions is hard to attain. We continuously think: if only I had that car… I would be contented; if only I had a lot of money, I don’t have to worry; if only I receive a lot of likes on my Facebook post, I would be satisfied. It’s all about “IF ONLY…” The question to us is: what if we cannot get all these? Can we not be happy at all? When we set conditions for us to become happy, we will never be happy at all . The choice to be happy is within us and not a response to the outside world. The Beatitudes teach us that a committed relationship with God and a rightful relationship with people is what will make us happy. The acronym H.A.P.P.Y. should guide us to a world of happiness and joy in all circumstances.
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