Sunday Breakfast with the Word 4th Sunday Ordinary Time of the Year A
Matthew 5:1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Zephaniah 2:3,3:12-13
A man sent his son to go and learn about the secret of true happiness from a sage. The Son walked through the desert area for forty days and forty nights until he reached the beautiful domain of this sage.
The Sage lived in one of the most beautiful mansions in the mountainous area of the city. When he reached the place, he saw many people coming and going, some were discussing and chatting around the mountain and some others playing songs and soothing melodies.
The sage was attending to almost all the people that came to him.
The young man has to wait for his turn to meet the Sage. When it was his time to meet the Sage, the Sage had to pay attention to him and did not have time to explain to him the answer to his visit.
So, the sage told the young man that if he wants to know the secret of true happiness, he has to take a stroll around the palace and come back in two hours.
However, he handed him a teaspoon into which he poured a few drops of oil. He told him, “while you move around the palace, do not spill the oil.”
The young man agreed. He began to move around the palace, climbing up and down the mountainous staircases, but keeping his eye fixed on the spoon.
After two hours, the young man returned to the Sage. So, the Sage asked him, “did you see the Italian designs and sculpture, the Chinese tapestries before the door to the hall? Did You see the beautiful green garden? What of the lovely apartments beside the courts?
Surprised, the young man confessed that He wasn’t aware of any. He focused only on the oil. He does not want the oil to spill, and because of that, He could not notice the things the Sage mentioned.
Now the Sage asked him “are you happy? He said no. The Sage asked him to go back again, which he did.
He came back very happy and amazed at the beautiful structures that he saw.
The Sage told him “true happiness often lies in the things we neglect because we are so much focused and immersed only in ourselves. Happiness is everywhere around us, but we neglect these and focus only on ourselves.”
The Sage said to the young man again, “True happiness does not necessarily come from the things that we have or possess, just like you focused on the oil and still ended with unhappiness, rather true happiness comes from those little things around us and outside of us.
In the second reading today, Paul says that God chooses the foolish to shame the wise. Where we think nothing is, that is where something is.
2. Also, In today’s gospel, Jesus reveals the eight keys to true happiness, which we shall gradually digest in these readings.
These eight keys to happiness are called the beatitudes. Let us take a little walk through these in a point-by-point analysis.
Meaning of Beatitudes, The True Happiness.
The Greek word for beatitude means Makarios. This is translated as “blessed” “fortunate” and “happy.” The first point here is that Makarios is a gift of God. So, every blessing comes from God.
The word beatitude also comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning ” true blessedness, utmost bliss and true happiness.
Therefore, this goes beyond being ordinary happiness to achieving the blessedness that comes from God.
This is that true happiness that comes from the spirit. It is not in any way affected by worldly possessions or worldly affairs. It is that happiness that emanates from our deep and sincere spiritual life and relationship with God.
The true happiness we talk about here is different from the one the world can give. That of the world could be characterized with pleasures and temporary, but true happiness or beatitude goes beyond earthly pleasures and lies deep within our hearts that not even the tragedies of this world can expunge them.
Remember what Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:27, that the peace and happiness that He gives is not like that of the world. It goes beyond it.
This one is deeply and highly spiritual and everlasting. This is the reason Jesus says, that they are the truly happy ones.
The Thrust of the Sermon of the Mount.
1. In this reflection, we are going to go on a point-by-point analysis, so we shall fully understand this passage.
Here, what I want to elucidate here is what truly led to the sermon on the mount and the reason Jesus declares blessings only on the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the merciful etc.
It happens that before the coming of Jesus Christ, the Jews in the time of Jesus were expecting the coming of the Messiah who would deliver them.
2. They were expecting a kind of a military and political Messiah who would deliver them from the yoke of Romans and establish a Kingdom for the Jews. This Messiah would be greater than any king, leader, or prophet that ever exists.
So, as Jesus was moving around preaching the good news of the Kingdom, the people were following him because they saw in Jesus, the messiah they were waiting for.
3. The people are already tired of suffering and religious burdens from the Pharisees and Roman domination. Remember that in John 6:15, after Jesus miraculously fed the multitude on the far side of the Sea of Galilee, the people tried “to come and take Him by force, to make Him king” (John 6:15).
So, the crowd saw in Jesus the type of political leader who has come to lift their burdens and solve their physical and political needs.
So, the thrust of the sermon on the Mount is that the secret of happiness and blessedness does not necessarily come from what we shall eat or wear. True happiness comes from our relationship with God.
In John 18:36, when Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” the Lord replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
4. The thrust of the Sermon on the Mount is that the true secret of blessedness or true blessings are not the physical things that we kill ourselves to have.
True blessing or true happiness comes from our relationship with God and not from our relationship with the world.
True blessings are not necessarily how many houses we built, or the latest cars that we ride.
If we have these but neglect the important things like peace, humility, forgiveness, mercy, desire for God, firmness in the time of persecution and love for God, we are still lacking God’s blessings.
This is why the first reading says “Seek the Lord, all you, the humble of the earth, who obey his commands. Seek integrity, seek humility, with these, you may perhaps find shelter on the day of the anger of the Lord”.
Today’s gospel is called the Sermon on the Mount because it was declared on the mountain. It is like Jesus’ inaugural speech.
On this mountain, Jesus declares the inward qualities and characteristics of those who are truly blessed.
Therefore, He gave the eight secrets or the eight keys to true happiness.
Blessed means that whoever practises those virtues or lives on them should consider himself fortunate and truly blessed. It means that these eight keys are the true source of happiness.
The Eight Keys To True Happiness.
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus outlines eight keys to true happiness. These eight keys are:
a. Poverty of the Spirit
Poverty indicates lack. This does not in any way refer to material possession or lack of it. These are those who recognise that they are spiritually poor.
Therefore, they depend fully on God. It is when someone sees himself as empty and nothing. Hence, He recognises the need for God in all His endeavours.
What Jesus is saying is that anyone Who humbles or empties himself or herself and takes God as all in all is already blessed. God will never forsake such a person. Jesus declares that such kind of Christians already has the kingdom of heaven”.
Therefore, true happiness, blessing and peace come when we allow God to take full control of us. It is when we recognise our spiritual emptiness and see God as everything we need in life. You are truly blessed if you do this.
B. Those Who Mourn
We face a lot of challenges and pain. When Jesus says those who mourn, he also means those who cry, who shed tears over their afflictions, over their sins. They are people who cry to God when they are in deep pain or when they grieve over their sins.
Jesus says that such people will always be comforted. Like a child running to their parents when they face trouble or get hurt, we can always cry out to God. I always tell people that the best place to shed our tears and pain is in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
No tears before God are taken for granted. Also, whenever we grieve or cry out for the forgiveness of our sins, God will always answer us and bring us back to Him.
Therefore, those who had faith in God in times of grief and afflictions are already blessed while those who also mourn and cry for the forgiveness of sins are always comforted and forgiven.
3. The Meek
Jesus says “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”
Meek means those who are quiet and trusting in God for everything. They are meek and humble of heart. They do not depend on or work for earthly rewards.
The meek trust deeply in God’s provision. They are not working or serving God to elevate themselves, they always humble themselves before God, giving God all glory.
This is why Jesus says though that if they forgo earthly rewards, they will inherit the earth. Therefore, True happiness or blessing comes from humility and meekness.
4. Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness.
Jesus says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”. These are those who have an active and spiritual longing for God.
They have a constant hunger and thirst for God’s word and love according to it. These are those who go to God because they love Him. It is not those who go to God only for wonders and miracles.
These people always desire to do good and avoid evil. They have a deep longing for everything concerning God.
Jesus declares blessing on them and says that they must be satisfied. Therefore, true happiness comes when we truly desire to be on good terms with God.
5. The Merciful.
Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Here, Jesus promises that mercy awaits those who are always willing to forgive others for their weaknesses and wrongdoings.
Therefore, this means that the measure we give is always the measure we have to receive. What we sow, we must also reap one day.
So, true happiness comes when we truly and wholeheartedly forgive and forget. Whenever you forgive, it will seem as if a burden is removed from you. Let us always forgive.
6. The Pure in heart
Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” These are those who do not bear pains, bitterness, worries, or girls in their hearts. They always experience internal blessedness.
Whenever they make a mistake, they are always fast to confess their sins and free themselves from anything that will soil or poison the Spirit.
The Pure in heart is a heart that is seeking to be free from every negative energy. This is the secret of true happiness.
7. The Peacemakers.
Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. These are those who always long for peace. They are not agents of violence or trouble. Rather, they are agents of peace. Wherever there is peace, we can find God.
Whenever God wants to work a miracle in your life, He will first of all give you peace of mind. Peace is a priceless gift. Jesus says that those who always work for peace are truly blessed. Peace is a source of true happiness.
8. Those Persecuted because of Jesus.
Finally, Jesus says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you”.
This is one of the reasons the early apostles were so happy suffering for the sake of the gospel. Jesus promises great rewards for anyone who passes through persecution or suffering in any way.
Therefore, there is true happiness here. Though one is being persecuted, He is happy to go through it because He knows that He is not alone and a great reward awaits him.
Therefore, true blessings come from all the persecutions and insults that we undergo because of Jesus.
1. The beatitudes were given on a mountain. In Jewish understanding, a mountain is a place of encounter.
Remember that Jesus always goes to the mountains to pray ( Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23). Therefore, great blessings await us when we meet God at the place of encounter.
As the crowds gather on the mountain to meet Jesus today and receive blessings, let us always come to our places of encounter, the places of our prayer to encounter God. Great blessings accompany us when we do this.
2. When Jesus says “Blessed are”, Jesus means those who live these kinds of virtue are truly blessed. Therefore, those who live in those patterns should consider themselves fortunate and happy.
So, in the list, let us choose the one we can live, and live to the fullest.
3. In the world today, many people think that earthly possessions and wealth are everything. It is only at the point of death, that they will come to understand that such does not exist.
Therefore, true blessings come from our relationship with God. These blessings will lead us from this world to the world beyond.
4. There are many today who pass through pains, rejections, lack, failure, intimidation, disappointment etc. Jesus says that they will be comforted.
It then means that God has not forsaken them. There is still hope especially if they cry out to God.
5. When you look at the beatitudes you will see that they are in sharp contrast with that of the World. The world believes in wealth, personal pride and authority consciousness, while Jesus blesses poverty of spirit, humility and total dependence on God.
In essence, we seek pleasure but Jesus blesses those who mourn. We love good food and drink, thirst for worldly success, building mansions and skyscrapers but Jesus blesses those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, seeking good relationships with God.
What gives the world joy is different from what should give whoever is a disciple of Jesus joy.
Therefore, this is a pointer that we do not find true joy in selfish ambitions, earthly possessions, and craving for power. These will vanish one day.
True happiness comes to those who are peaceful with God and their neighbour. True happiness comes from God especially if we relate with Him wholeheardtedly, keep His words and relate with our fellow human beings. This is the summary of the beatitudes.
May God bless you dearest and help us to seek the things that are above to be worthy of His Kingdom Amen. May He protect You.