Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 5:1-12)
Matthew’s gospel is a gospel of teaching. It celebrates Jesus as a great teacher, who surpasses even Moses. The evangelist sets down five major speeches of Jesus in the course of the gospel. And the first is the Sermon on the Mount.
The beatitudes of Jesus present a radical challenge to commonly accepted ideas. Jesus proclaims that the poor are ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’, not the rich. It is the gentle, the meek, who will inherit the earth, not those who are violent.
Eight beatitudes describe eight qualities or situations, such as those who mourn, who show mercy, who are persecuted. Each of these qualities or situations is described by Jesus as a special channel of God’s favour. Jesus presents to us a profound challenge which invites us to reconsider and to change the way we think and the way we behave.
The final beatitude ‘Happy are you’. How can we possibly consider persecution and abuse to be blessings? If we can unite our own sufferings with those of Christ, we can begin to know God’s presence in an entirely new way.
Is it absurd to, look upon personal suffering as a gift from God?
What should our attitude be to the suffering of others?
We ask for the strength to transform our attitudes and behaviour.
We pray for all those who are persecuted and abused.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 5:13-16)
This week, Jesus uses two simple images, salt and light. Here, Jesus is actually talking about salt which has lost its taste and is good for nothing. The challenge he is putting before the disciples is the risk of losing their zeal, losing their enthusiasm for his message, and thereby offering people something weak and insipid instead, something short of the good news. If we begin to present only the easy parts of the good news, we risk offering something which does not deliver the fulness of life.
The second image is that of light. The life-giving challenge Jesus brings us is that we should allow our light to shine, but that it is the light given us by Christ. The true greatness of the Christian is to offer to others Jesus and all the hope he brings, by lives which are transparently good, full of salt and light.
Do we accept the fulness of the good news, or only the easy bits?
Do we allow our light to shine, or do we ‘hide it under a bushel’?
We ask for the courage to live the gospel to the full.
We pray for strength to witness to the truth of the gospel for those we meet.
Fr Adrian Graffy