TEXT: The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 5:1-12
We often find ourselves in desert places where there is little water and we are thirsty. Yet, at other times we seem to go up into mountains where we meet Jesus and hear things so wonderful that speak to our hearts so clearly.
Surrounding the little valley where I live at my retreat house in Montana, there are high mountains that have a lot of snow on them from the most recent snows that fell in the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountain ranges surrounding us. Thanks be to God the "desert" where we live has water in it, because God has chosen to provide that watershed for the country. There are many springs of water in my valley "desert." I praise God for these.
Yet, I have also been on the sides of these lovely mountains that surround this valley and I have looked down into the valley. The perspective changes much for us when we go up into a mountain.
Today, Jesus also calls his disciples into the mountain.
1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
It is wise to see the crowds and hear the call of God to the mountain where we may learn many new things from Jesus. There are many that follow Jesus. But, many do not desire to go to him into the mountains and follow him there, sitting at his feet and listening to what he says.
I remember Mary of Bethany who desired to sit at the feet of Jesus.
There are many things to learn at his feet.
2 He began to teach them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Who are the poor in spirit?
Is it not those who have been dispossessed and marginalized by the enemy? The enemy seeks to drown those of us in the desert with trials and despair, yet, God allows the earth to swallow up the floods of water that come after the woman and her seed (Revelation 12), and we are called in the wilderness to the place where God has prepared. . .into the mountain where Jesus awaits us to tell us things that we ought to hear when we come to him.
We, the poor in spirit, are called to receive the kingdom of heaven. Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ -- the King is willing to share with his subjects the kingdom of heaven!
The world, needless to say, is not interested in sharing anything with the poor in spirit.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
We have mourned and felt the pain of loss(es), yet, Jesus who "emptied himself," revealed in himself the Way to bring consolation to all who suffer loss(es).
Are you mourning. Jesus cares, and loves, and is the greatest Consolation of the soul who mourns.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
The meek are not the inheritors of this earth. The land is ripped from their hands and given to others less worthy, as often is the case in the world’s way of doing things. Yet, Jesus says the meek will inherit the land, the earth.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
The hungry and thirsty may now taste and see that Jesus is good. The Good God has given us Bread and Wine mingled with Water to drink. The well that is Jesus is the Well that gives the Water wherein we shall never thirst again. The Bread that Jesus gives us is the Bread that makes us hunger no more, because we are satisfied. . . Jesus becomes our Enough. Christ Jesus is enough for us.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Mercy shows us how to become merciful, because of the greatest mercy toward us in Mercy -- Jesus is Dives in misericordia. . .rich in Mercy. Jesus is the rich "Ocean of Mercy" that knows no limits in time, as the waters of it pour throughout the earth from the snows of the mountains.
Here on the mountain, Jesus speaks of our becoming merciful to others. Thereby, we are shown Mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
The Water that we wash with cleans our hearts, beloved of God. It washes us so that we may behold our God in the beauty of his holiness. Did not our Lady say, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."? Surely so, for the angel Gabriel said unto her -- "Hail favored one! The Lord is with you."
Therefore, Mary saw God and carried our Lord Jesus Christ in her womb to full term. She, the Holy Ark of the Covenant. . .awesome God that God should visit mankind through this woman! Yet, such was the promise -- Genesis 3:15.
Let us have a clean heart in order that we might see God better.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Hatred and warfare are not the ways of God. War begets wars. Hatred begets hatreds. Murder begets more murders. The cycle is endless, but for the Grace of God.
Those who make peace will become peacemakers, the children of God.
God desires to bring peace to chaotic hearts. Peaceful hearts that are touched by God desire to impart peace to chaotic hearts.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Those who follow God through this world where Satan desires to drown us with his torrential floods, all muddy and full of debris, will for the sake of righteousness inherit the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.
Yes, let us praise God for this truth, beloved.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This message from the mountain was carried down again into the valleys of life. It meets us where we are at in life. It challenges us to live differently from the world’s ways and challenges us to the Way of Jesus, our Lord and our Savior.
It challenges us to live with Jesus and our Lady in the desert and to become the true children of God and the inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.
I have read with interest, and paryed with our Lady the Prayer called the Magnificat.
It seems, as I pray with our Lady this prayer, there are stricking similaritiues between what she says and what Jesus says in the Beatitudes of our Gospel reading for today.
Listen to Mary, as she echos what Jesus has said --
46 And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
48 For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
51 He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
53 The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
55 according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
Mary so helpfully leads us to her Son, Jesus.
Mary is our best example in following Jesus, her Son.
Let us follow Jesus with Mary all the Way.
Deus et Sanctissima.