Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Last week we saw Jesus outlining his dream, his plan for the salvation of the world. Today in the Beatitudes we have the essence of Christ’s mission. The beatitudes are at the heart of the Gospel. Yet many regard them as impractical and far too demanding for ordinary human beings. Try preaching the Beatitudes, to the poor and homeless in the mission countries and tell them ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’. Go to the women and children in Ucraine, who are suffering from the horrors of war and tell them, ‘Blessed are those who mourn’. Gandhi calls this teaching the most radical piece of social doctrine that was ever preached. Gandhi had a great admiration for Jesus Christ, but not for Christians. Speaking to his followers one day he said that some Christians are like the rocks at the bottom of the stream, dry on the inside even though they have been immersed in the life and liturgy of their religion for many years. Maybe we need to see this doctrine as a challenge to our own lifestyle. The beatitudes are extremely practical and are within the reach of human beings. Happy are the poor in spirit. One of the great dangers of riches is that we become very greedy, and we want more. The challenge of Jesus is that we should put our trust in God rather than in money. Money may open a lot of doors in this world, but it will not open the door of the kingdom of God. How many times have we said that it is not the number of possessions you have, but the kind of person you are that makes you rich in the sight of God? Happy are the gentle: they shall inherit the earth. We could argue and say if you are gentle people will walk all over you. Some people see gentleness as a form of weakness. Gentleness is not a form of weakness. It is a form of strength, and it is one of the necessary qualities in life. Think of the gentleness required in the hands of a mother, a teacher a surgeon, care workers, etc. By gentle we don’t mean a timid person who wouldn’t say boo to a goose! It takes a strong, self-confident person to be gentle. Happy are the pure of heart they shall see God. When we talk about purity and cleanliness, we talk a lot about outer cleanness. Today people are more worried about the environment than morality. People talk a lot about pollution today. People are right in wanting clean rivers and clean air, but they should be more concerned about the most dangerous pollution of all. The pollution of evil with its manifestations of greed, hate, envy, anger, lust, maybe we have some of these dangerous pollutants in our lives. The beatitudes are challenging but they are practical. They are the badges of a disciple of Christ. They make is rich in the sight of God. A person who lives according to the beatitudes is already living in the Kingdom of Heaven. Eternal life will merely be the full blossoming of a plant that is green with life.