HOMILY: Shaped by the Beatitudes 


4th Sunday in Ordinary Time | January 29, 2017

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on all of this week’s readings.
So I must admit, whenever I hear this Gospel, I cannot help but hear the refrains of one of my favorite hymns.

​Rejoice and Be Glad, Blessed are You. Holy are You

​Rejoice and Be Glad. Yours is the Kingdom of God.

But when I re-read the Gospel for this weekend, I realized that those lyrics had given me a false sense of comfort.

For the Gospel account does not give a whole lot of reasons to start rejoicing.

There are a ton of future promises that’s for sure. But those future promises often seem so distant. Especially when you actually try to live out the beatitudes.

I was thinking of a former student who is trying desperately to stay in college, but just doesn’t have the funds. I remember his panicked phone call explaining how he hasn’t really eaten in a week because he can’t afford to buy food.

​And I hear the echoes . . . blessed are the poor in spirit.

I remember those moments in the funeral parlor staring at the body of my lifeless student and watching his mother wrench with sobs that cut to the bone.

​And I hear the echoes . . . blessed are those who mourn

I remember staring into the eyes of my students the night their cousin and classmate died telling them that they were not going to retaliate. That they were going to go home. I could see the anger and the rage. As if my refusal to succumb to revenge was a betrayal.

​And I hear the echoes . . . blessed are the peacemakers

I was thinking of some of my heroes who have devoted their lives towards the fight for justice and how often everything came crashing down. Funding was cut. Programs were shuttered. Buildings were leveled. Colleagues were murdered.

​And I hear the echoes . . . blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

And I think of how often I have been told that I am not good enough to be a priest. How I am a heretic. How I am going to Hell. All because my faith doesn’t always mesh with their politics.

​And I hear the echoes . . . blessed are you when they insult and persecute you.

See, I don’t know how often the beatitudes feel like blessings when you are going through them.

On the contrary, I believe the beatitudes can be downright difficult.

For they call us to a way of living that does not come with immediate reward.

And by all worldly standards, the practice of these beatitudes are utterly foolish.

For we esteem financial success. We are expected to live comfortably and securely.

​We are taught to be happy. To avoid pain and suffering. To hide our tears.

We glorify the proud and the strong. Our culture is soaked in violence from the sports we watch to the wars we wage to the games we play. We value brute force. And we celebrate people willing to use it.

​We demand immediate satisfaction. We expect quick results.

We justify revenge. We despise weakness of any kind. And we hate to be wrong. To be on the losing side.

Maybe that’s why the beatitudes seem so troubling. Because they fly in the face of everything we’ve been told and taught.

Only a fool would eschew what the world offers.

Only a fool would walk away from the power and the prestige, the security and the comfort.

But maybe that is why God chooses the fools to build up his kingdom.

Because this worldly wisdom will not get us far in ushering in God’s reign.

On the contrary, we must be a people of hope.

​A people who believe that the Lord will hear the cry of the poor.

​A people who believe that every tear will be wiped away.

​A people who believe that the humble will one day govern the earth.

​A people who believe in a kingdom of justice and peace, where each person will find their home.

​A people who believe that every sin can be forgiven

​A people who believe that every sword will be beat into a plowshare.

We must be people shaped by the beatitudes.

The road will not be easy. For, as Christians, it will always be marked by the cross.

But behind the cross is the truth of resurrection.

And behind the beatitudes is the truth of the kingdom of God.

So let us rejoice, my friends.

Let us rejoice.

For blessed are we who follow the law of our Lord.

May God be Praised.

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