Immersed in Christ: June 1, 2020
Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
also, Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time (reflection follows these readings)
1 Kings 17: 1-6 begins two weeks of readings about Elijah, the prophet whose image John the Baptizer modified (Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:12) and who some people assumed Jesus to be (Matthew 16:14). In this reading he is in hiding for prophesying drought to Ahab, but the Lord provides for his needs. The Responsorial Psalm tells us what to focus on: “Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121). Both readings teach us to look to God for security and wellbeing, not to anything on this earth.
Matthew 5: 1-12: The first teaching of Jesus that Matthew reports was not for the “crowds.” When Jesus “saw the crowds, he went up the mountain” with a smaller group, his “disciples,” and “sat down” with them to teach them his “New Law.” The “crowd” was not yet ready to hear it. So we should read the “Sermon on the Mount” expecting to be shocked!
Jesus begins with a series of statements that contradict basic assumptions everyone takes for granted. He says that the “poor in spirit,” the “lowly classes, whose spirit is crushed by their need and by oppression” (John McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible) are “blessed.”
Let’s be real! Who believes that?
The “poor in spirit,” in every age and social condition, are those who are powerless. Or, by extension, who, because of some recognized inadequacy, deeply realize they haven’t “got it made.” Is that what we want? Jesus says it opens us to accept the “kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus goes further. He says those who “mourn” are blessed. Do we believe that? Do we believe that if we open our eyes and let ourselves be afflicted by what is wrong with the world, and frankly face our own sins and sorrows, fears and anxieties, we will be “comforted” by deeper truth, by promises we can rely on?
Do we really think that the “blessed” on this earth are those who are avid in the pursuit of holiness? Is this the ruling priority in most Christians’ lives? In yours? More than getting educated for affluence? Achieving social acceptance? Earning promotion? Financial security?
Would Jesus have invited you and me into the circle of his special “disciples” to tell us the whole truth about his teaching? Or do we fit in better with the “crowd”?
The question has been answered. By Jesus. He told his apostles, “Go make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” No secrets. We are all called to be his disciples. Everyone is invited to the banquet table, to the whole meal. The truth is given, available to us in the Gospel. All we have to do is sit down and eat. And assimilate. Read, think, discuss and pray.
Then live it out in prophetic witness to the world.
Initiative: Be a prophet-in-training: Read the “Sermon on the Mount” with an open mind and heart.