As I’m sure most of you know, today’s gospel is often referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”. In Luke’s version, Jesus begins strongly with the Beatitudes. These are composed of some blessings and curses. These teachings show Jesus as the Lord of reversals. However, let’s not misunderstand them, the Beatitudes are not just about the rich or the poor, happy or sad, hungry, or satisfied, etc. It is beyond our status in life but more of our status before God. Jesus was careful to note that whatever we are experiencing, if it is because of our faith and love of the Lord, we are blessed.
Today, the rich, the famous, and the powerful are often referred to as the “blessed” ones and this implies that the rest of us are not blessed. But with the Beatitudes we are reminded that anything against God’s commands is never a blessing. So really the riches, the fame and the power are only a blessing if they were attained in faithfulness to God. In the same way, the poor, hungry, the oppressed, and the like, are not automatic curses. They may be blessings if they were attained in faithfulness to God. Relationship with God, not our worldly status, determines blessedness. Blessed is being always in the grace and favor of God. Now, I always thought that I was blessed if things were going my way. If my life was comfortable, I had money in my pocket, and all the lights turned green before I hit the brakes, then I knew God loved me and I was blessed. The beatitudes totally upset my expectations and invited me to evaluate blessing in a different way. Jesus reminds us that our lives will be filled with the reality of difficulty. After all, we live in a sin-infused world. Suffering will come to meet us and has most likely been a familiar companion on the journey. But even in that, we do not have to be afraid. We do not have to hide our weaknesses or our problems. They, too, are the ways we will bless the world. As we are, as God made us, as God calls us.
As I sit today and write this reflection, I’m pondering the beatitudes and it hits me that these are our steps to salvation. As Fr. Benny Tuazon stated in his homily on the beatitudes, “They are our ways to heaven. They are steps to salvation. Thus, it is important to see them not as a judgment on status but an encouragement and inspiration to a committed and faithful relationship with God.” Let’s take some time to examine our current situations. What has our relationship with God been like recently? Over the last two years? Five years? How are we glorifying him? What are we achieving in faithfulness to Him? Remember that it is not our worldly status that determines our blessedness and our ultimate destination, the Kingdom of God.