This Sunday begins a series of gospels on The Sermon on the Mount, Christ’s new commandments. They’re wholly positive; not laws but inner ways to blessedness in this world and the next. Lets confess any ways we’ve fail in these key Christian areas, such as mercy, peace, love, and purity of heart..
“I have a dream”, you know Luther King’s famous speech. It envisages an equal USA for all, achieved not by violence but by new attitudes in men’s hearts. Today’s gospel is Christ’s “I have a dream” speech, a plea for a world where all are equal and God’s blessed children. For Christ’s 8 beatitudes are not laws, but keys to changing the human heart, and thereby changing the world.
As such they contain no “thou shalt nots”. They’re wholly positive, geared to change people inside. Law is useless, Christ says, unless we’ve mercy, love, peace, purity, generosity and a thirst for right within us. That’s the key to blessedness in this world and the next. No wonder even non-Christian saints like Ghandi found them so beautiful. Through non-violent protest he followed a blessed way to an independent peaceful India. He proved that Christ’s way can change a violent world into God’s. For if men’s hearts are peaceful so is the world around them.
In effect, the beatitudes are Christ’s blueprint for a peaceful and blessed new world. As such they override the old 10 commandments. He keeps saying: “it was said to you in the past..but I say to you”. I wont deal with all the beatitudes here, I’d keep you all day. But even one of them, if practiced by everybody, would bring heaven on earth. For example take the first: “blessed are the poor in spirit”. Christ is not saying its good to be poor but that the key to universal equality and justice is to be poor “in spirit”. If each person freed his heart from greed and possessiveness then injustice would disappear in the world. There would be universal sharing of earth’s resources, an unfailing way to solve society’s injustice and make all happy.
But Christ is also a realist. Detachment from riches and worldly greed will make us happy, free us within and win us untold friends. But it will make the world hate us. We’ll expose how useless and unsatisfying its greedy, materialistic, violent and selfish values are. So the world will seek revenge. That’s why he says blessed are you when the world hates and reviles you, you must be doing what’s right. So we shouldn’t let worldly propaganda change our focus. As a holy man put it then the test of how well were following Christ is how much we’re made to suffer. Christ, the holiest man who ever lived, was crucified. His crime, challenging the wealth power and corruption of Jewish and Roman lords. They thought killing him would kill his vision.
The world tries to kill God in the same way in every age so that it can give full reign to its greed and power lust. But we who love God, his blessed people, must continue to follow Christ’s way. For he calls us to freedom from greed, overflowing love, purity of heart and generosity of Spirit to redeem not conform to the world. For this brings happiness here as well as hereafter. If we’re free and pure within then we’ll be wise and happy; free from worldly ways that manipulate and destroy. For the world’s values of which Satan is lord fade to ashes and leave the soul high and dry both in this world and before eternity, but Christ is lord of love, goodness, peace, and truth both for our deeper happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people called to live the beatitudes and so transform a corrupt, violent and unjust world into Christ’s graceful, peaceful, truthful and glorious kingdom, lets profess our faith.
Prayer of the Faithful.
and as the people of God, the blessed children of the beatitudes lets pray for the things that we need.
For church leaders throughout the world that they may witness to Christ’s values – not those of palaces or wealth or power – and so transform the world into the just Kingdom of God..
For our civil leaders that they may serve the good of all, especially the weak and vulnerable, not just their own wealth, power and privilege…
For ourselves; in our homes, communities and nation may we witness to Christ’s blessed way of peace, love, mercy, goodness, purity of heart, faith and beauty, and so redeem the world..
For the sick in our community that through our care they may know the blessed love of God and his Christ..
For the dead that they may enter into the glory of the Blessed after following Christ’s faithfully in this world…
and we ask all these prayer through the same Christ who is lord of love, truth and beauty forever and ever amen
In that film about Ghandi, the holy man who led India to independence, there’s a wonderful scene. A Christian who was working with him asked him to abandon his way of peaceful protest. “But doesn’t your Christ say turn the other cheek”, Ghandi said. “Ah, but we don’t take that literally”, the Christian replied. Ghandi, in effect, was a better Christian than his western advisor. Moreover, when civil war broke out Ghandi fasted and prayed until they stopped fighting. We pray that we too will follow Christ’s way, which is a also a universal recipe for peace, justice, and happiness, and so come to fullness of life here and hereafter under his glorious banner..Hail Mary.