4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Opening of Catholic Schools Week
Our Lady of Sorrows: A School of the Beatitudes
Msgr. Thomas Gervasio
In today’s Gospel we hear the Beatitudes, the beginning of our Lord’s “Sermon on the Mount,” which St. Augustine called the “magna charta” of Christian moral life…the best summary of Our Lord’s teaching. They are not specific “rules” as are the Ten Commandments but reveal what the attitudes or inner workings of our heart should be as disciples of Christ. Pope Benedict once described them as “a self- portrait of Jesus” where we see his face and his way of acting. So if we are to be disciples we should know them well. Yet at first glance they are rather disconcerting and run against our human way of thinking. Consider them:
- To be poor is a burden and hardly a blessing
- It is hard to feel blissful when we are broken-hearted.
- Don’t we usually consider meekness a weakness?
- Those who have been wronged or falsely accused and seek justice are typically weary not satisfied.
- We are more often vengeful rather than merciful with those who have hurt us.
- Our hearts are not always pure but tainted by passions, greed, pride and envy.
- Peacemaking is a difficult task. Isn’t it much easier to hold a grudge and refuse to forgive?
- One who suffers for what is right and true is often misunderstood, unpopular and even ridiculed.
And yet, we find Jesus in each of these. The Lord’s Beatitudes provide a comforting vision that all wrongs will be righted. He reveals what will come in God’s Kingdom. This is a programme of life that is in stark contrast to our culture. How then, does a disciple live out the beatitudes?
The Beatitudes are lived only with constancy and courage. Only then can a disciple begin to see the Kingdom of God begin to be established in his or her life:
- A disciple understands that money is useful to accomplish many good things but when the heart is attached to it is destructive. A disciple is aware that our life does not depend on possessions.
- In times of sorrow or grief, a disciple does not despair. A disciple is always a person of fervent hope confident that even death itself is not the last word.
- A disciple who seeks justice is aware that God is our ultimate judge and that justice will be established.
- Mercy is the measure used by a disciple in his or her relationships. A disciple keeps in mind the Lord’s warning, “The measure with which you measure will be measured back to you.” Harshness is replaced by compassion, forgiveness, generosity.
- A disciple strives to be self-controlled, to purify his intentions, his motives, his very heart.
- Grudges, resentment, rancor do not have a place in a disciple’s life. A disciple works for peace and reconciliation.
- Courage and constancy are the constant companions of a disciple who suffers for what is right. That disciple can repeat with St. Paul: “I rejoice in my sufferings.”
How appropriate, that by coincidence, the Beatitudes are presented to us as we celebrate the opening of Catholic Schools Week. I say this because a Catholic school, Our Lady of Sorrows School, is a school of discipleship, a school of the Lord’s service. Its very purpose is to provide every student the opportunity to study the “portrait of Christ…to see his face and his way of acting.” Here the groundwork is laid so that every student may understand that they are called to holiness, that they can indeed become men and women of the Beatitudes.