January 29, 2023

IV Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Homily: We identify with every human situation and try to make it better

So, which is it? Blessed are the poor in spirit or blessed are those who punch their way through life?

Do we share our common lives as human beings or is one cultural group better than another?  

Are we all superior or are some inferior to others?  Are we all human beings or not?

No, we are not all human beings if we do not treat each other or respect each other or live with each other as human beings!

Even police officers can snap.  Even parents can snap.  Even children can snap.  Situations of pressure and insecurity can threaten us and diminish our capacities to act and respond as human beings.

However, we cannot settle for less.  We cannot forget or require less of ourselves, because God created us in his image and likeness.

First of all, we should admire and help one another.  We should acknowledge and respect one another, rather than treat each other with suspicion and disrespect.  May the life and goodness of God continue to live in each one of us!

How many murders and beatings will it take?  It doesn’t seem to be enough.   How many more misjudgments and miscalculations will it take?  There is evil in our world and in our neighborhoods.  May we not be its victims!  But may we not be so simplistic as to believe that it is not there.

That is why some people stay within the locked confines of their own homes, and don’t go out, except when necessary.

Well, my dear brothers and sisters, today, Jesus calls us to stand up and be counted as people of light and truth, to be bold, and to live and proclaim light and freedom.

The followers of Jesus walk in the light of truth, in the protection of God, with a divine presence.  We identify with every human situation and try to make it better.  We do not settle for death.  We promote life and well-being.  We stand against what is unjust.  We promote all that is human; and we develop ourselves to be the productive children of God.

Yes, we hunger and thirst for righteousness and what we can do to make it happen.

We hunger and thirst for what is right and just.  We live mercy, think clearly in our consciences.  We are peacemakers.  We are children of God, and cultivate life and the good and truth.  We look to the future where life will be fuller and greater.

St. Paul’s words today are meant to shame us into practicing life in the manner of Jesus, not to be blinded by all the human and sub human standards that surround us.  We do a lot of human boasting, St. Paul writes.  “No human should boast before God.”

Today, St. Paul reminds us not to compare ourselves to others who might seem to have more or do more.  Life is not about our “boast” but about how well we are living and being true to God and to ourselves.

Jesus encourages us to develop the very deeper and long-lasting qualities of being a good, sincere, respectful, and loving person.  Living the blessed life happens when we live God’s spirit and goodness in our simple, daily lives.  It is only then, that we are truly blessed and will bless others.

Being poor in spirit invites God to bless our lives with his presence, his inspiration, his good gifts and a wonderful sense of personal satisfaction.  The Blessed person is full of life!

We do not punch our way through life!

2nd Homily: Blessed are the poor in spirit (and not those who think they are entitled)

I ask you a rhetorical question to which the answer is “No!”:

Could Jesus ever have imagined that 1,500 years after his birth, that the famous architect and artist Michelangelo would even build a St. Peter’s Basilica?

Not accepting the traditional argument that since Jesus was the Son of God and that he knows everything, he must have known?

As I see, Jesus, sitting down today on the slopes of Galilee, a roman basilica was the farthest thing from his imagination.  Jesus was not an architect, nor a psychologist, but he was God’s interpreter for a world of human beings, for the meaning to their lives, and their dreams for the future.

Jesus often spoke in parables.  Often, he put opposites together that seemed to clash.  Today, we hear the foundation of his message, and the most profound truths that enable life to flourish.

The first principle of life is that *everything* is a gift – a mystery, a new possibility that we have received from God.

A gift we never dreamed of having, and sometimes, do not know how to live to its full possibilities.

How does life work?  Notice, really notice please, that Jesus tells us that there is an inner spirit to life, that enables us to live a blessed life.  Jesus tells us to focus on this quality.  It has nothing to do with money or property or bank accounts or investments, or fanciful human dreams.

Jesus uses the word “Blessed” to describe a clarity about the meaning of life, living a selfless spirit of wisdom and decision-making, a wholesome peacefulness about life, about others, about where I am in life, a selfless sense of service and sharing.  An insight about living that makes all the difference is being happy and being productive and fulfilled.

Do I have the kind of spirit that Jesus is suggesting that I have?  The beatitude is not a thing or an appendage to my personality, but rather the generous loving, gracious spirit within which I live life and which I share with others.

As I hear them read again today, we ask ourselves:  Are these the first qualities that I want to imitate, for which I want to be noted?

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  The first beatitude is the topic sentence and includes all the rest.

God defines for us the goal or the kind of human being to become.

St. Paul reminds us today to temper our pride, our sense of accomplishment, and our unbridled ambition to succeed.  He writes: “Not many of you were very powerful, not many were of noble birth.  God chose the foolish to shame the smart.”  Does what we pursue in life have anything to do with what God wants for our life?

The person with a beatitude spirit is very intelligent and judges the consequences of their choices… is a person who sees far beyond the present to our final destiny.  He or she knows that life is short, that gospel spirituality evolves and transforms a personal life into a wise, generous and effective life.  The beatitude person understands how life evolves and works, that it’s in giving of our self, that we receive, that we come to be, that we find our future.

“Whoever boasts,” St. Paul advises, “should boast in the Lord.”  We have to discover how to translate that into our lives.

Everything that I share, all that I am, how I live my life is a gift from God.  Today’s beatitudes are Jesus’ suggestions for how to live the gift of our lives – who we become as a person and how we define our place in the world.

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