November 1, 2023 at Saint Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, Florida
The Gospels have beatitudes scattered all through the life of Jesus. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it. Blessed is she who believed that the promises of God would be fulfilled. Blessed is the breast who nursed you, and all through the Old Testament there are many more. What Matthew has done is collect some of these proclamations and woven them into the first of several talks or discourses Jesus gives in Matthew’s Gospel. If the teaching of Jesus were condensed into a dozen verses we would have it all, everything he taught and lived.
The trouble with these verses is that they have become so familiar that we hardly give them any more deep and serious reflection. Perhaps a new version might give us more comfort and reassurance, because that is what they are intended to do in Matthew’s Gospel. These are not goals to be achieved, but words spoken to reassure and comfort those to whom they addressed. Maybe this would work for today:
You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God.
You are blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You are blessed when you are content with just who you are – no more, no less. That is the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that cannot be bought.
You are blessed when you have worked up a good appetite for God. He is good and drink in the best meal you have ever had.
Blessed are you when you care. At the moment of being care-full, you find yourselves cared for.
You are blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You are blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That is when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
You are blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s Kingdom.
Not only that: count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens: give a cheer, even, for though they don’t like it, I do. And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten in this kind of trouble.