Gospel Reflections

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:1-12a

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Marie Angele Kitewo

Published: January 29, 2017


Beginning with the first verse of this Gospel passage, attention is focused on the place, the natural surroundings in which Jesus places himself to proclaim the Beatitudes. It is on the mountain: a high area, clearly visible to the crowd. 

The words pronounced in a loud voice on the mountain traveled far; they were carried by the waves and the winds.  What we know well about the wind…“no one knows where it comes from or where it is going.” Its direction is neither predictable nor fixed.

What was spoken from the summit of the mountain is believed to have been heard in the surroundings near and far. What was done on the mountain is supposed to have been seen by many if not all. 

Through the choice of a mountain as the setting of his preference, Jesus indicates the destination of his message: the entire world. “Seeing the crowds he went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them.”  (Mt.5:1-2). All of us are invited to listen to and welcome this message of salvation, to live it as committed witnesses throughout our lives.  Moreover, he himself has told us, “You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.”  (Mt.5:13-14).

So as to insist on the visibility of our witness, Jesus specifies and insists clearly the place where we must keep our lamp lit, “on the lampstand” so as to illuminate the whole house (Mt.5:15-16). Thus it is an obligation for us to make our good actions visible so as to attract other brothers and sisters to God. 

The contents of the Beatitudes taught by Jesus forms the kernel of the way of life of every believer engaged in the following of Christ. The fact that each Beatitude is preceded by the word “blessed or happy those who…” creates a certain ambiguity or even a strong contrast for what follows after the word “happy” is in opposition to what precedes it. Indeed, our current world is characterized by acts of violence, terror of wars which strike and exterminate entire nations. 

How, in such circumstances, can one consider him or herself “happy?” Is a person happy in the midst of tears?  What happiness can a person feel who is persecuted and chased from her or his own country? When one is insulted or even killed !... By using this strange language, Jesus announces implicitly the experience of another life, the one which he has come to teach, a life which makes us sons and daughters of the Father, children of God. It is life in the Spirit

Just as sheep know the voice of their shepherd (Jn. 10:14), the children of God whom we are, are sensitive to the divine grace of the Spirit who acts in them.   Although the Beatitudes are proclaimed to all people, only those who are aware of the movement of the Spirit of God have the capacity to understand their profound meaning and to penetrate the deep sense of this language – nearly enigmatic – used by Jesus in this preaching on the Beatitudes. 

Let us pray, asking for the light needed to understand the true meaning of the Beatitudes for our time. 

Let us sing together:

You who are light,

You who are love

Place in our darkness

Your spirit of love.         

 

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