“Children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a ‘diagnostic’ sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world. Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human.” ~Pope Francis, homily excerpt, May 25, 2014
Monday, June 9 ~ Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
Saint Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church
Holy Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world’s understanding of happiness and joy. How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression. God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world. Thomas Aquinas said: No one can live without joy. That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures. Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?
Pour into our hearts O Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, at whose prompting the Deacon Saint Ephrem exulted in singing of your mysteries and from whom he received the strength to serve you alone. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
What is the good life? What is the ultimate end or purpose of life? Is it not happiness, which is none other than the complete good, the sum of all goods, leaving nothing more to be desired? Jesus addresses this question in his sermon on the mount. The word beatitude literally means “happiness” or “blessedness”. What is the significance of Jesus’ beatitudes, and why are they so central to his teaching? The beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness that God has placed in every heart. They teach us the final end to which God calls us, namely the coming of God’s kingdom (Matt. 4:17), the vision of God (Matt. 5:8; 1 John 2;1), entering into the joy of the Lord (Matt. 25:21-23) and into his rest (Hebrews 4:7-11). Jesus’ beatitudes also confront us with decisive choices concerning the life we pursue here on earth and the use we make of the goods he puts at our disposal. God alone satisfies. Knowing this, do you seek the highest good, the total good, which is above all else?