29 January 2017
Seek the Lord,
all you, the humble of the earth,
who obey his commands.
you may perhaps find shelter
on the day of the anger of the Lord.
In your midst I will leave
a humble and lowly people,
and those who are left in Israel will seek refuge in the name of the Lord.
They will do no wrong,
will tell no lies;
and the perjured tongue will no longer
be found in their mouths.
But they will be able to graze and rest
with no one to disturb them.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Take yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called: how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families? No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.
The human race has nothing to boast about to God, but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom. As scripture says: if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus 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:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What is the secret to happiness? That’s the eternal question, isn’t it? Often the pursuit of what we think will bring us fulfilment leaves us feeling spent and hollow. We seek wealth, power, pleasure and the respect of our fellow men, yet when we attain it, our thirst is not quenched. Chase after the wrong things in life and there lies the road to certain ruin.
With the Beautitudes, Jesus offers us a new and radical way to orientate our hearts. He asks us to give it all up! Give up your attachment to material security so that you may be free of its corrupting influence and become a good steward of it. Give up your need for pleasure and gratification because the path to lasting fulfilment lies in acting out your purpose, not your ambitious desires. Give up your pride because humility is the necessary condition for us to become the conduit of His love. Give it ALL up and empty yourself so that you may be filled with Him, and only in Him is there lasting happiness. That’s the radical message of the Beautitudes!
The mysteries of life are sometimes glimpsed through the movements of nature. In this instance, our giving up of our old selves is not unlike the beautiful metamorphosis of the lowly caterpillar. It sheds its awkward, flightless shell – to emerge reborn as this glorious, ethereal being. Perhaps our own metamorphosis will be just as radical, just as beautiful if we only gave Jesus a chance to work that change in us. Perhaps if we gave the Beautitudes a chance, we might experience happiness that endures. We might actually be free.
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for Jesus to work that change in our lives, to guide us to be better daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends, to be better children of God.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, who inspires us and helps us to see.