January 29, 2017 – 4th Sunday of the Church Year

Saint for the day: Servant of God Brother Juniper (died: 1258)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Zephaniah 2:3 …3:12-13   –   Psalm146   –   1 Corintians 1:26-31   –   Matthew 5:1-12a

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of heaven is theirs!” (today’s “Responsorial verse for Psalm 146)

 The verse quoted, above, is fitting for this day when we remember “Servant of God Brother Juniper a contemporary of St. Francis. Be sure to “click” on the above “link” to read the interesting story of this early Franciscan Brother. It reminds me of our own, Fr. Felix who seems to have shared some of the same goals in dealing with the poor and needed. There might be a lesson there for all of us. We’re also getting close to the beginning of Lent which is just 5 weeks away. Today’s Holy Gospel – with its familiar listing of the Beatitudes – is a good way for us to take inventory of how we live our spiritual life especially as it applies to the “poor in spirit.”

I often find it helpful to read through this Gospel and then come back and take each one of the “Beatitudes,” but changing the sense to hear, “Am I poor in spirit?” and what does that mean? “Blessed are they who mourn…” might call us to a deeper awareness of the people around us who don’t have even the barest essentials to live a good life. Now, you can go at your own speed and try to see how you could apply the next Beatitude and so on. If you take them one at a time and let each one swirl around in your mind you might get a fuller understanding of what Jesus is calling us to.   You might try to think of all the many ways you might be able to live these Beatitudes in your own life.

I think that, when Jesus preached this sermon, He was trying to give his disciples ample food for thought about the way they should follow Him. So much of the time, we think that following Jesus is centered around a personal “spiritual life” – mostly concerned with some kind of a prayer life. While that is an important part of how we follow Jesus, it’s not the only way in which we understand what it really means to say that, I am following Jesus. You might just take each one of these beatitudes and work with it foe a day or two and try to get as full an understand of what it might in your daily walk with Jesus.

The ending of today’s Holy Gospel gives us the “key” to how this might work once we understand the deeper meaning of each of these “markers” in our Christian walk: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Amen!

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