Pastors corner for the 4th Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year A by Rev. Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ
The Beatitudes are not commandments, rather they are rather invitations to adopt certain attitudes and live out certain values.
The Gospel for this Sunday introduces the great Sermon (Sermon on the Mount, 5:1-7:29) that is the real beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Matthew’s Gospel. Of all the evangelists, Matthew is the most concerned to relate the Christian community to its Jewish heritage.
Central to that heritage is Israel’s possession of the Law (Torah) of Moses. For Matthew, Jesus does not sweep away the Torah but ‘brings it to fulfilment’ (5:17). He does so by giving it an authoritative interpretation valid for the messianic age.
As the Mosaic Law shapes life of the Israelites, the Christian community should find in the Sermon the Torah that is to shape and characterise its life. For this reason, it is important to note the context in which Jesus gives the Sermon. If we look back to the concluding verses of the previous chapter, we shall see that Jesus addresses his disciples in the presence of ‘all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics and paralytics, . . .great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan’ (4:24-25).
Jesus ascends the mountain, sits down, and his disciples come to him – as to a teacher – for instruction. He is not trying to get away from the crowds. He is about to tell his disciples who they must be and how they should live, so that they can be something for that burdened mass of humanity that is down there on the plain waiting for his – and ultimately their – ministry.
To live in this way, according to these values, makes supreme sense if God truly is as Jesus reveals God to be. It is only in the context of faith in such a God that living according to the Beatitudes makes sense and is, in fact, the supreme wisdom. Now it may involve vulnerability and loss; in the perspective of faith and the hope for the Kingdom of Heaven that faith holds out, it is hard-headed commonsense. That is why those who, following Jesus, adopt this way of life, are to be ‘congratulated’, why they are ‘blessed’.
It is by living in this ‘blessed’ way that the disciples can be, as Jesus goes on to say, ‘Salt of the earth’ (5:13), ‘Light of the world’ (5:14).
Lest us continue to pray for the sick members of our parish especially Elizabeth Mooi, Gloria Malunga and Malefu Mkhambi.
Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ