Vol: 44, No.11 4TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR ( A) January 29 2017  
 

Each “Beatitude” states that the possessor of this characteristic will be “blessed” by God. A formal blessing is a divine action, sometimes brought about through an intermediary (priest, king, or parents). The New Testament Beatitudes refer to a future reward, whereas the Old Testament Beatitudes assume that the reward is already present. Short explanations for each of the Beatitudes are as follows:
1. The poor in Spirit. The word used in Greek for poor is ptōchos which denotes a “beggar”, not just a poor person with few possessions. This Beatitude should be read against the OT tradition of God’s special care for the poor such as Exod  22:25-27; Lev 19:9-10; Deut  15:7-11; Isa 61:1.
2. The mourners. This beatitude should be read against the background of Isa  61:2-3 where the prophet’s mission involves comforting all those who mourn in Zion. The occasion for their mourning is the devastation of the First Temple of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. It was prophet Isaiah who consoled the mourners in Zion.
3. The meek. Psalm 37:11 says, “The meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” The “land” is not necessarily limited to the land of Israel. In apocalyptic literature (see 1 Enoch 5:7) the promise is widened to include the gift of the whole world to the just. To the elect there shall be light, joy and peace, and “they shall inherit the earth.”
4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. The background is Psalm 107:5, 8-9, which describes God as satisfying the hungry and the thirsty. Righteousness refers first to God’s justice and then to human relationships and behaviour.

 

The satisfaction promised in the Beatitude is first and foremost futuristic.
5. The merciful. The background for this is Proverbs 14:21 where “blessing” is the reward for kindness shown to the poor. Mercy is first of all an attribute of God, who in turn desires mercy from human beings.
6. The pure in heart. The background is Psalm 24:3-4 which speaks about those who have “clean hands and a pure heart”. It characterizes people of integrity whose moral uprighteousness extends to their inmost being and whose actions and intentions correspond.
7. The peacemakers. The background is the Old Testament idea of Shalom as the fullness of God’s gifts. Although all peace comes from God and perfect peace will be realized only in God’s kingdom, following Jesus in the present demands the active pursuit of peace. The peacemakers will be invited to join the angels (“sons of God,” see Gen 6:1-4) at the last judgement.
8. Persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Matthean community members might take this beatitude as a description of the social ostracism that they endured for their unusual way of living their faith. Early Christians endured lot of suffering and persecution for their faith. The persecution continued till the early fourth century when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion.
The Beatitudes are a programme for life. They summarize what Christian life is. It takes effort and discipline of life to live by them. God looks at the sincerity of our effort and not how much we achieve for he understands our limitations. Let us therefore make an effort to live the Beatitudes.

– Dr Augustine Kanachikuzhy, ssp
January / February 2017 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 4
30 Mon (G) Heb 11:32-40/ Ps 31:20-24/ Mk 5:1-20
31 Tue (W) St John Bosco Heb 12:1-4/ Ps 22:26-28, 30-32/ Mk 5:21-43
01 Wed (G) Heb 12:4-7, 11-15/ Ps 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18/ Mk 6:1-6
02 Thu (W) PRESENTATION OF THE LORD, Feast Mal 3:1-4/ Ps 24:7-10/ Heb 2:14-18/ Lk 2:22-40
03 Fri (G) St Blaise Heb 13:1-8/ Ps 27:1,3, 5, 8-9/ Mk 6:14-29
04 Sat (G) St John de Britto 1 Cor 9:19-23/ Ps 67:1-7/ Jn 12:20-32
Forthcoming Issues
2017-01-30
4TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
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