Are You Convinced?

I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters,
that you yourselves are full of goodness,
filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.
But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you,
because of the grace given me by God
to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles
in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God,
so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable,
sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast in what pertains to God.
For I will not dare to speak of anything
except what Christ has accomplished through me
to lead the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed,
by the power of signs and wonders,
by the power of the Spirit of God,
so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum
I have finished preaching the Gospel of Christ.
Thus I aspire to proclaim the Gospel
not where Christ has already been named,
so that I do not build on another’s foundation,
but as it is written:

Those who have never been told of him shall see,
and those who have never heard of him shall understand.

(Romans 15:14-21)

Scripture Study

Paul sees himself as apostle and benefactor in the priestly service of the gospel and so sketches plans for a mission in Spain, supported by those in Rome.

15:14 Full of goodness: the opposite of what humanity was filled with according to Rom 1:29–30.

15:19 Illyricum: Roman province northwest of Greece on the eastern shore of the Adriatic.

15:20 I aspire: Paul uses terminology customarily applied to philanthropists. Unlike some philanthropists of his time, Paul does not engage in cheap competition for public acclaim. This explanation of his missionary policy is to assure the Christians in Rome that he is also not planning to remain in that city and build on other people’s foundations (cf. 2 Cor 10:12–18). However, he does solicit their help in sending him on his way to Spain, which was considered the limit of the western world. Thus Paul’s addressees realize that evangelization may be understood in the broader sense of mission or, as in Rom 1:15, of instruction within the Christian community that derives from the gospel.

15:21 The citation from Is 52:15 concerns the Servant of the Lord. According to Isaiah, the Servant is first of all Israel, which was to bring the knowledge of Yahweh to the nations. In Rom 9–11 Paul showed how Israel failed in this mission. Therefore, he himself undertakes almost singlehandedly Israel’s responsibility as the Servant and moves as quickly as possible with the gospel through the Roman empire.

Scripture Reflection

I myself am convinced about you” Rom 15:14

Actually, in the single line of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, there is much to ponder the challenges my commitment to loving my neighbor as myself.

Am I ready to assume the best of others? Am I willing to give others the benefit of the doubt whenever I don’t understand their words or actions? Can I commit to seeing others as allies in God’s unfolding plan for my ultimate happiness and eternal good, even when they seem to oppose me or calls me to suffer? Am I convinced that those whose views and perspectives differ from mine are interpreting the world as they see it, just as I am also doing? Can I admit to myself that they may have an insight that I do not? That their motives, while they may be different from mine, may still be genuine and justified? Am I convinced?

– Claire J King in Living Faith

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

A Temple of God

Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.
But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
(1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17)

Scripture Study

3:9 God’s building Presents a unified picture of the church community. In vv. 16–17, Paul describes the Corinthian believers as the temple of God.

3:10 the grace of God given to me Refers to God enabling the Apostle Paul to plant new churches, especially the one in Corinth. master builder Refers to the person who directs a construction project. a foundation Figuratively refers to Jesus Christ (2:2; 3:11), who is essential to the stability of the church community. another is building upon it Refers to instruction for the believers’ growth in being Christ like (see Acts 18:27–28).

3:16 temple of God Extending his metaphor from v. 9, Paul now calls the Corinthian congregation “God’s temple”—the location of His presence in the Spirit in that city. in you Paul uses the plural form of a Greek term to emphasize that the entire Church community is God’s temple (His dwelling place on earth), not just select individuals.

3:17 destroys A result of disputes and poor teaching. God will destroy that person God’s wrath will come upon those who attempt to destroy His metaphorical temple—the Corinthian church. Specifically, Paul is likely thinking of those who caused divisions within congregation (1:11–13; 3:4).

Scripture Reflection

Paul is not unique in his use of the images of field and building. Jesus uses them in his parables: he speaks of his disciples as a field and as a vineyard in the Gospel of Matthew; he also presents himself as the cornerstone of the new building, the Church. The agricultural images suggest the wonder of growth given by God, whereas the building image suggests the role of human endeavor in its construction.

An important element in both is the emphasis on the movement rather than the finished product. The growth and the building of the Church never stops. Christ empowers the Church to grow and its members to build in such a way that one can ever be satisfied that the job is finished.

– George T. Montague

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

All In

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:25-33)

Scripture Study

14:25–33 This collection of sayings, most of which are peculiar to Luke, focuses on the total dedication necessary for the disciple of Jesus. No attachment to family (Lk 14:26) or possessions (Lk 14:33) can stand in the way of the total commitment demanded of the disciple. Also, acceptance of the call to be a disciple demands readiness to accept persecution and suffering (Lk 14:27) and a realistic assessment of the hardships and costs (Lk 14:28–32).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in our Gospel today the Lord offers one of the greatest, most “slap you in the face” challenges he ever offered. “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother…and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

There is the great spiritual principle that undergirds the entire Gospel: detachment. The heart of the spiritual life is to love God and then to love everything else for the sake of God. But we sinners, as St. Augustine said, fall into the trap of loving the creature and forgetting the Creator. That’s when we get off the rails.

We treat something less than God as God—and trouble ensues. And this is why Jesus tells his fair-weather fans that they have a very stark choice to make. Jesus must be loved first and last—and everything else in their lives has to find its meaning in relation to him.

In typical Semitic fashion, he makes this point through a stark exaggeration: “Unless you hate your mother and father, wife and children, sisters and brothers….” Well yes, hate them in the measure that they have become gods to you. For precisely in that measure are they dangerous.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

The Invitation

One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled,
the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'”
(Luke 14:15-24)

Scripture Study

14:15 one of those at table Luke 14:1–24 takes places at the home of a Pharisee (v. 1). dine in the kingdom of God Alludes to the great messianic feast anticipated at the start of the era inaugurated by the Messiah, which involves people from all nations (Isa 25:6; compare Luke 12:36; Rev 19:6–10).

14:16 a great dinner Matthew records a similar banquet parable in Matt 22:1–14.

14:17 it is ready Suggests that the feast was prepared.

14:18 consider me excused They refused to accept the invitation, citing what they believed to be more important obligations.

14:21 the poor and the crippled and blind and lame The people Jesus mentions would have been social outcasts. To their conditions, Jewish people often ascribed some sort of sinful behavior (John 9:2). Jesus’ ministry is to these type of people (Luke 4:18–19).

14:23 the highways and hedgerows Likely refers to extending the invitation to travelers. This may represent the inclusion of Gentiles (non-Jews) in God’s kingdom (compare 13:29). make people come in Foreigners and marginalized people likely would be hesitant to accept an invitation to such a banquet.

14:24 none of those men who were invited Another role reversal; those originally invited were excluded and those who were originally excluded participated in the banquet.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel likens the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. Notice that the father (God the Father) is giving a banquet for his son (God the Son), whose bride is the Church. Jesus is the marriage of divinity and humanity—and we his followers are invited to join in the joy of this union.

The joyful intimacy of the Father and the Son is now offered to us to be shared. Listen to Isaiah to learn the details of this banquet: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.”

Now, there is an edge to all of this. For it is the king who is doing the inviting, and it is a wedding banquet for his son. We can see how terribly important it is to respond to the invitation of the King of kings.

We have heard the invitation of God to enter into intimacy with him, to make him the center of our lives, to be married to him in Christ—and often we find the most pathetic excuses not to respond.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

He Is Always There

Brothers and sisters:
The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.

Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy
because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given him anything
that he may be repaid?

For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To God be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:29-36)

Scripture Study

11:29 gifts and the call of God Refers to privileges granted to Israel (9:4).

11:30–32 Israel, together with the Gentiles who have been handed over to all manner of vices (Rom 1), has been delivered … to disobedience. The conclusion of Rom 11:32 repeats the thought of Rom 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”

11:33–36 This final reflection celebrates the wisdom of God’s plan of salvation. As Paul has indicated throughout these chapters, both Jew and Gentile, despite the religious recalcitrance of each, have received the gift of faith. The methods used by God in making this outreach to the world stagger human comprehension but are at the same time a dazzling invitation to abiding faith.

11:34 The citation is from the Greek text of Is 40:13. Paul does not explicitly mention Isaiah in this verse, nor Job in 11:35.

11:35 Paul quotes from an old Greek version of Jb 41:3a, which differs from the Hebrew text (Jb 41:11a).

Scripture Reflection

The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” Romans 11:29

Can you imagine that even if you falter time and again, that your friend would never go back on their promises to you; they would never abandon you for something or someone else? In this very cynical and “what have you done for me lately” world, that can seem hard to imagine. But the opening verse in today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans goes one better than that. God never goes back on anything he promises.

God loves us with an everlasting love. God’s calling, which is eternal, cannot cease. But we for our part can reject his call. The unchanging nature of God’s plan is reassuring to us as it means that even if we abandon him at any point, we can always return to our earlier faithfulness, and He is still there, waiting for us. What a friend we have in Him!

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Humble Servant

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Matthew 23:1-12)

Scripture Study

23:2–3. Moses passed on to the people the Law received from God. The scribes, who for the most part sided with the Pharisees, had the function of educating the people in the Law of Moses; that is why they were said to “sit on Moses’ seat”. Our Lord recognized that the scribes and Pharisees did have authority to teach the Law; but he warns the people and his disciples to be sure to distinguish the Law as read out and taught in the synagogues from the practical interpretations of the Law to be seen in their leaders’ lifestyles. Some years later, St Paul—a Pharisee like his father before him—faced his former colleagues with exactly the same kind of accusations as Jesus makes here: “You then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’ ” (Rom 2:21–24).

23:5. “Phylacteries”: belts or bands carrying quotations from Holy Scripture which the Jews used to wear fastened to their arms or foreheads. To mark themselves out as more religiously observant than others, the Pharisees used to wear broader phylacteries. The fringes were light-blue stripes on the hems of cloaks; the Pharisees ostentatiously wore broader fringes.

23:8–10. Jesus comes to teach the Truth; in fact, he is the Truth (cf. Jn 14:6). As a teacher, therefore, he is absolutely unique and unparalleled. “The whole of Christ’s life was a continual teaching: his silences, his miracles, his gestures, his prayer, his love for people, his special affection for the little and the poor, his acceptance of the total sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of the world, and his resurrection are the actualization of his word and the fulfilment of revelation. Hence for Christians the crucifix is one of the most sublime and popular images of Christ the Teacher.

“These considerations are in line with the great traditions of the Church and they all strengthen our fervor with regard to Christ, the Teacher who reveals God to man and man to himself, the Teacher who saves, sanctifies and guides, who lives, who speaks, rouses, moves, redresses, judges, forgives, and goes with us day by day on the path of history, the Teacher who comes and will come in glory” (John Paul II, Catechesi tradendae, 9).

23:11. The Pharisees were greedy for honor and recognition: our Lord insists that every form of authority, particularly in the context of religion, should be exercised as a form of service of others; it must not be used to indulge personal vanity or greed. “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant”.

23:12. A spirit of pride and ambition is incompatible with being a disciple of Christ. Here our Lord stresses the need for true humility, for anyone who is to follow him. The verbs “will be humbled”, “will be exalted” have “God” as their active agent. Along the same lines, St James preaches that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6). And in the Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin explains that the Lord “has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree [the humble]” (Lk 1:52). 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus turns his sharp eye and withering critique on the many ways that religious leaders fall into corruption. What precisely is bothering Jesus? Some religious leaders get their kicks from burdening people, laying the law on them heavily, making demands that are terrible, exulting in their own moral superiority.

At the core of Jesus’ program is a willingness to bear other people’s burdens, to help them carry their loads. And this applies to the moral life as well. If we lay the burden of God’s law on people, we must be willing, at the same time, to help them bear it.

Another classic problem with religious people and especially religious leaders: they use the law and morality as a means of inflating the ego. The trouble is that this drug wears off rather quickly, and then we want more of it. We need a greater title, more respect, more recognition.

What is Jesus’ recommendation for those caught in this dilemma? To be great is to be a servant: lowly, simple, often forgotten. Eschew marks of respect; don’t seek them. Be satisfied with doing your work, whatever it is, on behalf of God’s kingdom.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Humility

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:1, 7-11)

Scripture Study

14:1 one of the leading Pharisees Jesus’ third meal with a Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel (compare 7:36; 11:37). they were observing him Others at the dinner were looking for a way to publicly discredit Jesus.

14:7 the places of honor The prominent seats where attendees were highly visible and likely close to the host or other distinguished guests.

14:10 Then you will enjoy the esteem In contrast to the shame of having to move from the place of honor to a lower place, a guest who chooses a less distinguished seat will be honored when the host elevates him or her to a better position.

14:11 will be exalted Implies being exalted by God. Jesus consistently teaches a reversal of expectations (compare 9:48; 13:30; 18:14).

Scripture Reflection

Humility is so necessary for salvation that Jesus takes every opportunity to stress its importance. Here he uses the attitudes of people at a banquet to remind us again that it is God who assigns the places at the heavenly banquet.

“Together with humility, the realization of the greatness of man’s dignity—and of the overwhelming fact that, by grace, we are made children of God—forms a single attitude. It is not our own efforts that save us and give us life; it is the grace of God. This is a truth which must never be forgotten.”

– St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Willing to Bear Their Burdens

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and,
after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern,
would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
But they were unable to answer his question.
(Luke 14:1-5)

Scripture Study

14:1 one of the leading Pharisees Jesus’ third meal with a Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel (compare 7:36; 11:37). they were observing him Others at the dinner were looking for a way to publicly discredit Jesus.

14:2 suffering from dropsy Refers to a condition in which fluid accumulation in connective tissues or bodily cavities causes swelling and inhibits circulation.

14:3 lawful to heal on the Sabbath Jesus previously healed at least two people on the Sabbath: a man with a withered hand (Luke 6:6–11) and a disabled woman (13:10–17).

14:5 son or your ox falls into a cistern Jesus’ point is that the religious leaders will work to save that which is important to them, so He too should work in order to restore a life (compare 13:15).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Pharisees and other religious leaders look on with silent disdain as Jesus heals a man. He challenged them by asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”

Some religious leaders get their kicks from burdening people, laying the law on them heavily, making demands that are terrible, exulting in their own moral superiority. At the core of Jesus’ program is a willingness to bear other people’s burdens, to help them carry their loads. And this applies to the moral life as well. If we lay the burden of God’s law on people, we must be willing, at the same time, to help them bear it.

When were you cured by Christ and how? What was it like to receive, through the Church, his healing touch? When did you feel ostracized, despised, unworthy—and how did Christ, through his Church, restore you to health and communion? Remember that moment and share it.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

The Faithful Departed

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.
(Wisdom 3:1-9)

Scripture Study

3:1–9. These very poetic lines convey very well the notion of the reward that awaits the just in the after-life, but they are not very specific about it. The author uses expressions that correspond to the time in history and Revelation in which he lives, but they do enable us to get an idea of the state of the blessed: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will ever touch them” (v. 1); the righteous dead are “at peace” (v. 3), that is, in the sphere proper to God; they can be sure of immortality, athanasía (v. 4). They will abide in the Kingdom of God forever and share in God’s power to judge and rule (v. 8; cf. Mt 19:28)—a pointer to their power of intercession. One could say that the most encouraging line of all is, “the faithful will abide with him in love” (v. 9). Still to come is the explicit New Testament revelation which tells us that the blessed “shall see God as he is” (1 Jn 3:2), not as in a (dull) mirror but “face to face”; they will know him as he knows them (cf. 1 Cor 13:12) and they will be with Christ forever in heaven (cf. 1 Thess 4:17).

Scripture Reflection

I was reflecting with a friend some time ago on the story of Mary and Martha. We spent the better part of a couple hours reflecting on the teachings of this story and how we had been encountering the virtuous behavior of these two women in many of the situations we had dealt with in parish life.

As I drove home from our meeting, I couldn’t get the thought of my Martha out of my mind. Martha was the name of my mother who I had lost a few months earlier. It was amazing to me how so many aspects of the biblical Martha were aspects of my mother Martha. Pulling into my driveway, I suddenly felt her presence with me.

In celebrating All Souls Day, the time when we remember the faithful departed, this story floated back into my consciousness as I recalled the lines from the Apostles Creed, “the communion of saints” and the beautiful words of Sister Joyce Rupp.

Sister Joyce said: “I believe our loved ones’ presence is near to us and that their love never ceases. If the faithful departed had the ability to come back and speak to us, I believe that they would want most of all to assure us of their immense peace and their desire for our happiness.” Blessings to all as we remember our loved ones.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Blessed

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:1-12)

Scripture Study

5:3 The poor in spirit: in the Old Testament, the poor (anawim) are those who are without material possessions and whose confidence is in God (see Is 61:1; Zep 2:3; in the NAB the word is translated lowly and humble, respectively, in those texts). Matthew added in spirit in order either to indicate that only the devout poor were meant or to extend the beatitude to all, of whatever social rank, who recognized their complete dependence on God.

5:4 Cf. Is 61:2 “(The Lord has sent me) … to comfort all who mourn.” They will be comforted: here the passive is a “theological passive” equivalent to the active “God will comfort them”; so also in Mt 5:6, 7.

5:5 Cf. Ps 37:11, “… the meek shall possess the land.” In the psalm “the land” means the land of Palestine; here it means the kingdom.

5:6 For righteousness: a Matthean addition.

5:8 Cf. Ps 24:4. Only one “whose heart is clean” can take part in the temple worship. To be with God in the temple is described in Ps 42:2 as “beholding his face,” but here the promise to the clean of heart is that they will see God not in the temple but in the coming kingdom.

5:10 Righteousness here, as usually in Matthew, means conduct in conformity with God’s will.

5:12 The prophets who were before you: the disciples of Jesus stand in the line of the persecuted prophets of Israel. Some would see the expression as indicating also that Matthew considered all Christian disciples as prophets.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today in the Beatitudes we hear a series of paradoxes, surprises, reversals. A topsy-turvy universe is being set aright. Let me propose a key for translating these Beatitudes. The word found in all of them is makarios, rendered “blessed” or “happy” or perhaps even “lucky.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit….” How lucky you are if you are not addicted to material things. Here Jesus is telling us here how to realize our deepest desire, which is the desire for God.

“Blessed are they who mourn….” We might interpret it this way: “How lucky are you if you are not addicted to good feelings.” Doing the will of God sometimes involves the acceptance of enormous pain.

“Blessed are the meek….” One of the greatest seductions the world holds out to us is power. But what I ought to do is eschew worldly power, so that the power of the will of God might reign in me.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.