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Saturday, 28 January 2023 17:25

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A - 2023

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:1-12a

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestHere in Australia the idiom “turn something on its head” is used quite a lot, especially in sports. When a team is leading by a big score and then the opponent rallies and is now in the lead, you can hear commentators saying, “The game has been turned on its head”.

The gospel for today is something similar to that. Many theologians have considered “The Beatitudes” as something quite revolutionary; some even said that it is even greater than the “Ten Commandments” which was introduced by Moses in the book of Exodus. In many aspects, they are correct in saying that.

Beatitudes TwitterThe gospel of Matthew has portrayed Jesus Christ as the “New Moses”. And if we look at his gospel thoroughly, we see some events in the life of Jesus that are similar to the life of Moses. Firstly, when King Herod heard that the “King of the Jews” had just been born through the statement of the Wise Men, he saw that this newborn king would be a threat to his throne he wanted to kill him. So after the visit of the Wise Men, Joseph got a message from an angel in a dream to go to Egypt to escape from the clutches of King Herod. In the book of Exodus, when the mother of Moses heard that the Pharaoh planned to kill all baby boys aged two years and below, she made a wicker basket to put the infant Moses in and let it float in the river to escape the massacre. In the gospel of Matthew, when King Herod realised that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, he ordered all male infants two years old and below to be killed. Again, in the book of Exodus, when Moses gave the Ten Commandments to the Hebrews, he received them from God on a mountain. In today’s gospel, Jesus is giving his Eight Beatitudes from what is now known as the “Sermon on the Mount”.

The Eight Beatitudes are revolutionary as they focus more on how we should live our lives in a more positive way. The Ten Commandments consist of two positive commandments (Third and Fourth) and the other eight are negative commandments (Thou shalt not…), while the Eight Beatitudes in the gospel of Matthew are all on the positive (Blessed are those…). However, in some beatitudes, some are quite ironic. Let us examine a couple.

The Second Beatitude, “Blessed are they who mourn.” Now this is very confusing for some because we ask ourselves how those who are mourning, sorrowful or sad can be blessed. In some translations, it is even more ironic, using the word “Happy” instead of Blessed. But for Jesus, nothing can be further from the truth than that statement. If we are mourning because of the injustice that is happening in the world and we are led into action then indeed we are blessed and we even get the promise that we’ll be comforted. For example, there are so many people who are living in poverty in the world. If we are mourning, sad or sorrowful about them and it leads us to action to help these people, then we are indeed blessed. If we are mourning, sad or sorrowful because of the state of the environment and we are led to action by advocating respect to the environment then we are indeed blessed.

The Seventh Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” If we look at the world around us, we know we have never been more in need of peace than now. If we look at Ukraine, the war there has been going on for almost a year now. This conflict is really sad as there are already many who have died because of this war and we’re not yet counting the millions who are now refugees because of the war. We’re also talking about the millions if not billions of dollars of destroyed houses and infrastructure and the millions who are still suffering in the country. Also, closer to home, we only need to look at the youth crime and lawlessness that is happening in Alice Springs. It is quite unthinkable that these things are happening in Australia. It is caused by a myriad of causes like domestic violence, poverty, lack of education and opportunity, alcohol and many more. If we are truly children of God, may we do our best to be peacemakers so that all conflicts that lead to loss of lives and misery to us all would disappear.

The Beatitudes tell us on how to live our lives as Christians. This is not to replace the Ten Commandments in any way. The Ten Commandments are important and will still be there as a guide for us but the Eight Beatitudes fulfil the Ten Commandments by calling us to live a life that is more merciful, caring for the poor, humble, fair and ready for persecutions that await for every follower of Christ.

May the Beatitudes be an inspiration for us to live more like Christ and await the reward that will come on our way if we persevere to the end.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

We acknowledge their skin-groups, story-lines, traditions, religiosity and living cultures.

We pay respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Thailand, and Myanmar.

We are committed to building with them, a brighter future together.