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Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.

Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.

4th Sunday Ordinary Time A

The Beatitudes, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. They are among the best known and most beloved verses of the Bible, among the most treasured sayings of Jesus. They are often quoted. The result is that they have become bland and mushy, easy to take. They may have lost their bite. One thing we need to be clear about when it comes to the Beatitudes is that they are not practical advice for successful living. They offer no strategy for worldly success or for how to get along in this world.

The Beatitudes are meant to shock or startle. They are designed to make us get in touch with the logic that prevails in God's kind of world which is -- to say the least -- a bit topsy-turvy. In the second reading of today Paul captures the basic thrust of the Beatitudes very well when he says:

  • God chose what is foolish in our world
  • God chose what is weak in our world
  • God chose what is low and despised in our world.
Paul says that as a reflection on the foolishness and absurdity of the cross of Jesus that he has dealt with in the verses prior to this Sunday's reading. The cross is not a grand display of power and strength. The cross does not conform to our ways of reasoning, it runs against the grain of the way we think and often act.

And yet we claim that in the cross of Jesus what is on disply is the wisdom and power of God. God has inaugurated his kind of world in the foolishness and absurdity of the cross of Jesus. The Beatitudes are of the same ilk, fairly foolish and absurd.

Nevertheless, real Christians live this way, the way of the Beatitudes. Why? Because their life is rooted in Jesus Christ who lived this way. The Beatitudes represent a Kingdom of God way of living.

It is even interesting the way the Beatitudes are formulated: they are not imperatives or exhortations in the sense of "you must live this way and then you will enter the Kingdom of God."

Rather, they are declarations about what a Kingdom of God life-style looks like. People that have been clothed with Christ Jesus (a baptismal formula), people that have been grasped by Christ Jesus live this way. They will get their hands dirty on working for peace and on building a future for others. They will shed tears because they find no rest as long as there is violence, abuse, oppression, exclusion in our world. They will know no peace, because they feel the anguish, the pain and the suffering of others. In short, they are really messianic people. They embody a life-style that in many instances is a 180-degree reversal of what human wisdom finds reasonable and acceptable.

These are the people that, in the words of the first reading of this Sunday, seek the way of the Lord, who do God's commands, who seek righteousness and humility. May we be among them. Then we will be blessed and we will find our home in God's Kingdom. Better still, if we have gotten our feet wet in the Kingdom of God, then we will live this way.

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