27 January 2011

'Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .' Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, 30 January 2011

Sermon on the Mount, Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82

Readings (New American Bible, used in the Lectionary in the Philippines and USA)

Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12a)

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.”


Nearly all English translations that I’m familiar with use the term ‘poor in spirit’ in the first beatitude. I never quite understood what this meant until I read the New English Bible (NEB) translation: ‘How blest are those who know their need of God, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs’. (Many say that the NEB isn’t a literal translation. The Revised English Bible, a revision of the NEB, went back to ‘poor in spirit’). However, for the first time the term ‘poor in spirit’ became clear to me. It doesn’t mean being far from God, being lost in sin, but knowing that we need God. It is in that awareness that we are blessed by God.



Biblical Reflection for 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB http://www.zenit.org/article-31564?l=english

TORONTO, JAN. 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As the Church continues her pilgrim journey throughout history, we need a vision to sustain us and give us hope in the midst of our shadows, ambiguities and sins, our joys and hopes and victories. That biblical vision is found in the great Christian charter in today's Gospel passage . . .

Meaning of the beatitudes

The beatitudes are the great charter for Christian living. They reveal God's ultimate justice and outline Jesus' prophetic outreach to those who live on the fringes of society. So many people -- the sick, the lame, the poor and the hungry -- converge on Jesus on that Galilean hillside. In this awesome biblical scene overlooking the sea, Jesus puts biblical justice into practice by proclaiming the beatitudes. Authentic justice is a bonding of one's self with the sick, the disabled, the poor and the hungry. The crowds that listened to Jesus were awestruck because he spoke with authority, with the force of someone who knew the truth and offered it freely to others. He was a teacher like no other . . .

Blueprint for holiness

The beatitudes are also a recipe for extreme holiness. Holiness is a way of life that involves commitment and activity. It is not a passive endeavor but rather a continuous choice to deepen one's relationship with God and to then allow this relationship to guide all of one's actions in the world . . .

Full text here.

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