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. Many books in today's culture 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, Bible study groups on the Beatitudes would be standing room only, and our 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 our secular culture or the message of Jesus? Look at Elijah in today's first reading. He 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 (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 daily live the Beatitudes.
Promise: "My help is from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." —Ps 121:2
Praise: St. Ephrem learned to seek the Lord in the desert and to share Him in the city.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 4, 2008
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