6th Sunday C – A Blessed Paradox
“The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfil it” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 386. The Spirit of God works through this desire. I know a woman whose husband left her after 25 years of alcoholism and abuse. Delia (not her real name) is one of the most peaceful people you could meet. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…trust in ME” has been her prayer through it all. To listen to Delia is to experience an unusual quality of peace. “God is more real to me,” she said, “than my troubled husband ever was”. Blessed are they who know that God is with them – even if they are poor, ignored, forgotten or abused.
Blessed are you who are poor…hungry…weeping…hated and abused…Your reward will be great in heaven. The Beatitudes, whether Luke’s four or Matthew’s nine, speak of two worlds: that of poverty, hunger and suffering, and the world of the Kingdom of God. They draw our attention to life’s suffering and distress and at the same time they offer hope. “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings…Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,” cries Jeremiah. This paradox is how our faith understands the human condition. Yet the heart and core of our faith is that we are loved by someone whom we cannot see.
To be blessed is to know we are being held and protected by a loving presence that’s more real than ourselves; a taste of heaven already as it were. “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”, wrote Pope Francis. People today are moving from a religion that was more focused on external teachings and activities to one that’s more meditative and centred on the word of God. They may not often go to church but there are signs that the Spirit of God may is work among them: love of freedom; dignity of the self; pluralism and awareness of others; hopes for justice; a need to sense the sacred; retrieval of the imaginative and the feminine; ecology of the earth.
I wonder if one of the reasons why those who are drawn to a deeper spirituality today is they see the old religion of yesterday congealing into legalism and ritualism. New wine in old wineskins! Many younger people who don’t often go to church ask about God’s love. Father M. P. Gallagher offers advice to help God’s love become more alive in their hearts: “Resist the rudderless drift, develop skills of stillness and wonder, be on the lookout for the word of God”. God’s word has a way of sensitizing us to the reality of Jesus Christ as the expression of God’s love for the world.
Fr. QQ – 02/09/2022