Sunday, 29 January 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the Scripture readings, all of us heard about the descriptions of who are considered as true Christians, as those who are not Christians just in name or in the official records only, but also Christians in their hearts and souls, and all who see these people, will truly know and recognise their Christian faith, not because they show off any records or cards stating that they belong to the Christian faith, but because of their own actions and deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on the words of our Lord Jesus in the Beatitudes which He taught to the disciples and to the people who heard His teachings on the mountain, as we also heard it in our Gospel passage today. The Eight Beatitudes are the eight good virtues which all of us should have in our own lives, as Jesus had gone through each of them, which are then expected from us Christians. Let me now go through each of them from the beginning to the end.

We have to be poor in spirit, which does not refer to material poverty, or being poor because we have no money or worldly possessions in order to sustain ourselves. This is a misconception that many people often have with regards to the term ‘poor in spirit’. Jesus was not supporting those who were materially poor against the rich, and neither did He condemn the rich just because they were rich or had more material possessions than others.

Rather, it means that we must recognise our spiritual poverty, understanding that we are all sinners before God, delinquent and rebel, having been cast away from His presence because of our disobedience and sinfulness. It is the recognition and awareness of one’s own sins and weaknesses which is something that we do not commonly see among ourselves. We are often too proud and feeling too self-righteous to be able to see our own faults and therefore we are incapable of taking the steps to rectify this situation.

The kingdom of God truly therefore belong to those who are humble and willing to be forgiven, those who are able to open themselves to receive the loving grace of God. Which then comes to the next Beatitude, about those who mourn. This mourning is often associated with those who are sad and sorrowful because they lose something or someone precious, such as when someone they love passed away. But even more importantly, someone who is poor in spirit will also be sorrowful.

Why is this so? That is because if we are aware of our sins, and just how terrible those sins are, we will be sorrowful indeed, knowing that God surely would punish us for all the heinous and wicked deeds we have done. It is the regret that accompanies one’s actions, knowing regret for one’s sins which many people of our time are unable to do. Many of us are ignorant of our own sins, and how bad they are for our own souls.

This world is filled with sin and darkness, and many of us are trapped in the darkness. We fill ourselves with acts of hatred, jealousy, greed and all other things unbecoming of ourselves as those who call themselves as Christians. We cause harm, pain and sufferings upon others just so that we can gain things for ourselves, that we will benefit on top of others’ inconvenience and sufferings. This will happen when each person only cares about themselves and not about others.

This is where we need to be gentle, to be loving and caring, not to be quick to anger but be calm and be compassionate. We must have that desire to love one another, and to shown concern and care for our brethren, especially when we see someone being treated unjustly, being bullied and having their rights taken away from them. It is un-Christian for us to ignore the plight of our brethren, of those who have need for help, but having no one listen to them.

We are all called to be those who are ready to help these brethren of ours, helping them and comforting them, showing them mercy and love. That is why God blesses all those who have pity and mercy in their hearts, all those who are incapable of sitting still while they see someone being mistreated, bullied and persecuted against. It does not just mean that we should do our best to overcome our sins, but we must also help one another through our actions.

It is only when we have the right intention, the right attitude and the right understanding of things that we will be able to proceed on in a Christian manner. And indeed, a Christian person is a man of peace, who seeks the betterment of his or her brethren. A peaceful person inspires one another to rule out conflict in dealing with matters. They would try their best to bring harmony and peace in all situations. It is when love should trump over hate, where justice should trump over injustice.

Ultimately, let us all ask ourselves, are we able to do what the Lord had instructed us all to do? We do not have to worry or fear, because in the second reading today, in the Epistle which St. Paul wrote to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth in Greece, he said that God chose the ordinary and the common people, not those who are considered strong and mighty in the sight of the world, but all of us with our weaknesses and with our faults, have been chosen by God.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that by calling us all, God wants each and every one of us to be changed, transformed by our actions, which should be filled with love, with mercy, with kindness, compassion and grace. We should be following in the examples of our good predecessors, the holy saints who have led a life of virtue, a true Christian life which we all ought to follow as well.

That also means that as Christians we must not participate in acts that are un-Christian in nature. We should not sow division when we are able to unite instead. We should not bring about harm and injury to our brethren when we are able to bring peace and harmony, and also love and mercy. We must not act unjustly on our brethren, but instead we should uphold justice and honesty in all of our dealings.

Indeed, all of these will not be easily done, as often things are easily said but difficult to be made a reality. But that is precisely what Jesus Himself had told His disciples and all of His followers. That there will be opposition, persecution and challenges from many sources, but those who persevere through, will receive great rewards in the end.

Yes, temptations and persuasions to do otherwise will be great, but this is where we can help one another to pull through those difficult moments, and show one another with good examples of our own actions. Let the eight Beatitudes be our guide, in our conduct and in our actions, so that all those who see us will immediately recognise God being present in us and our works, and therefore many more people will come to understand God and His ways, and be saved together with us all.

May the Lord bless us all and our works, and may He awaken in each and every one of us the desire to live a true and blessed Christian life. May all of us be ever righteous, just and honest in our every dealings, and be caring and loving, merciful and kind towards one another, fellow brothers and sisters in our Lord. May God be with us all. Amen.

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