Who is blessed?
The story is told about two elderly women who have been playing bridge together for many years. One day while they were playing this card game, one suddenly looks up at the other and says: “We’ve been playing cards for so many years, but I keep forgetting your name! Could you tell me again your name, please?” There is dead silence, then the other lady responds: “How soon do you need to know?”
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 5, 1-12a), Jesus teaches the disciples who is blessed. The parables teach us to be forgetful of our pride and self-entitlement. The parables also teach us to slow down, and not to be in a hurry in our search of power and wealth. The parables present a sure formula for failure in the eyes of many modern people. For us Christians, the parables present a formula for true and lasting peace.
Who is blessed in the eyes of the world? Blessed are the rich, the successful, the beautiful, the smart, the proud, the persecutors, the foul-mouthed, the bashers, and those who climb the ladder of success by whatever means. It is time for us to give the Beatitudes a chance.
The Beatitudes don’t make any sense at all to those who do not believe in God, and those who do not believe in eternal life. For them, we who believe in Christ and in the resurrection are fools. That’s all right. Yes, I am a fool, for Christ. That’s my decision. And that’s my choice.
“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.” Thank You, Lord, for your consoling words of life. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of being persecuted, insulted, maligned, and derided, because of You.
Remember, a Christian who is not persecuted in any way is not a true Christian. Have you suffered because of your faith? Blessed are you!
By the way, the other name for the evil one is “the great accuser of our brethren.” Let us not play the game of the evil one. Don’t get involved in his schemes and become a part of his team.
It is so easy to lose one’s cool and composure in the midst of all the daily pressures and turmoil. Lawyer Nic Cabaneiro told me how he manages to ward off the temptation to curse when he is on the road, driving. Every time he is about to flare up, he shouts: “Pu… rihin ang Panginoon!” And he proceeds to sing this song joyfully. Try it. It works!
St. Paul was the great persecutor of Christians prior to his conversion. Let us continue to believe in the goodness of people, and in our own goodness, too. If only we prayed more, and talked less. Let us not underestimate the value of prayer. Let us not give up on ourselves, and on one another.
Jan. 28 was the feast day of St. Joseph Freinademetz, SVD, our first missionary to China. This humble missionary dedicated 29 years to serving the people of China, with whom he wanted to live God’s love. He went through a lot of mistreatment and persecution because of his convictions, and was sometimes called “that foolish Freinademetz.” The Church considers him a “saint of charity.”
How time flies! One month is almost gone now in the new year. Time is fleeting. Where are we going? What are we doing? Let us follow the spirit of the Beatitudes—poverty, gentleness, humility, righteousness, purity, peace, trust in God amid suffering and persecution. Let us do our mission well as we journey to God’s heart.
Think about this: “Don’t worry. God is never blind to your tears; never deaf to your prayers; never silent to your pains. He sees, He hears, and He will deliver.”
A moment with the Lord: Lord, help us to live the Beatitudes more, and be truly blessed. Amen.
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