Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday word, 03 Feb 2008

4th Sunday of the Year A (03Feb2008) Zeph 2. 3; 3. 12-13; Ps 146; 1Co 1. 26-31; Mt 5. 1-12a
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Tags for Jesus

We’ve entered again a Year of Matthew in our eucharistic worship. Matthew’s is the gospel read on Sundays this year. Traditional readings from John’s gospel in Lent and Easter will interrupt Matthew. We will resume it to its end. Matthew offers us a portrait of Jesus with a tag of I R S-- interpreter, revealer and son.

Always on the move, Jesus journeyed first from divinity into our humanity. We name his first move, Incarnation, as central to our faith. God in Jesus by their Spirit journeying into our humanity has its result: that we may journey into the heart of the Trinity.

Matthew’s account of the human infancy of Jesus echoed the exodus, that central journey in the Hebrew scriptures. It shaped Jesus into a Moses, who represented his people to God. Jesus’ baptism and his coming up from the water matched the crossing of God’s people through the sea, not adding a cloud of smoke or fire, but naming Jesus as beloved Son.

This Son is more than what we may glean from Jesus’ obvious role as teacher of God’s covenant. He taught by his words to be sure. Jesus also taught by his person and by his deeds the covenant-relationship of God with people. Risen Jesus continues to teach in and through his Holy Spirit given us.

What makes Jesus’ teaching more than we might presume from the word, teacher, or from other teachers we have known? Jesus interpreted his Father’s desire that all people share in divine blessing. The way Jesus interpreted revealed that blessing ever more clearly. Jesus did not teach and interpret a new way of living but that way that was there from the beginning; and Jesus revealed it more clearly: I have come not to abolish but to reveal./3/

Jesus revealed most clearly that the Holy One has always desired the humble of the earth, who have observed [the covenant] [and] seek justice [and] humility, as Zephaniah reminded us. In the very familiar Beatitudes Interpreter-Revealer Jesus stated the conditions for blessing. Jesus as Son forged its bond to include us. Blessed are the peacemakers; they will be called children of God. This blessing, as you noticed, is different from the others. One blessed with the land; two with the kingdom of heaven; the others with qualities of being in the world: being satisfied; receiving mercy; see[ing] God; and a share in insult and being persecuted like Jesus. Being children of God, however, is no quality. It’s our standing in the world. It’s our relationship with the God of peace, a revelation by Jesus about which people in every age have been at best reluctant, and at worst one they have renounced.

Perhaps we think the Beatitudes impossible. Yet nothing is impossible with God, to recall Angel Gabriel’s reassurance to Mary. On our better days we may think the Beatitudes are ideals. Yet they are conditions for blessedness; and blessed is what the word beatitude means. They are hard blessings, indeed; but being hard—or bittersweet or anything other than our preference—doesn’t make a blessing less a blessing.

What makes any blessing a beatitude is that it is unmerited, unearned: it is grace—total gift. Jesus kept nothing to himself, including his relationship as Son. Jesus gave himself so we might become heirs with him of his Father, the God of peace. Our relationship flows from Jesus’ desire that we enjoy it. Jesus freely bestows it. In Jesus God chose the lowly and despised of the world so that no human being might boast before God.

To hear and heed Jesus, the Son of God, is to share his relationship with his Father. Jesus is Son, interpreter, revealer. I R S has morphed into S I R, Son-Interpreter- Revealer. Son-Interpreter-Revealer sheds new light on Sir, English for the way many addressed Jesus.

This light lets us hear Jesus address us as brother and sister, welcoming us into a new relationship, our new standing in the world as heirs with him and children of his Father. In the Beatitudes Jesus invites us to take not just another look but to see ourselves as Jesus creates and redeems us each moment and to live by what we see.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, bask in the loving way the Trinity creates you each moment. Ask Mary or your patron saint to present you to Jesus, and ask for the grace to hear Jesus address you as dear brother, dear sister. Converse with Jesus about how freely or reluctantly you accept his beatitudes. Resolve to cooperate more with his grace. Last, praise Jesus for giving you a share in his relationship with his Father, the God of peace, by slowly saying his prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is our gateway to live more justly and with genuine humility more like Jesus, Son, Interpreter and Revealer.

/1/ Exodus 3.10.
/2/ Exodus 1.22-2.10.
/3/ Matthew 5.17:
to reveal is that other connotation of the Greek word which appears most often as to fulfill in our translations of words of Jesus.
Wiki-images of a door of St. Clemens, Hannover, Germany and of a Sign in Mount of Beatitudes church, Israel, are in the public domain.

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