January 30th, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last Sunday, we saw Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee calling a number of simple fishermen to come and follow him in order to “fish” for human beings. Today, he has gone inland and approaches the mountains and begins to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom. His ministry has been announced! His disciples have been chosen and it is time to go to work to spread the Good News in a more detailed manner. In order to launch this more structured phase of his ministry, he sits down surrounded by the disciples and begins to teach and the first thing that he unveils is what will turn out to be the basic law of the new Kingdom. We call it the Beatitudes.
At the beginning of chapter five and running through chapters six and seven, Jesus will give his basic teachings on his divine message from God to the human family on the purpose of life, how it ought to be lived and how we ought to relate to one another. It is important that we note that the standards that he places before us are at dramatic variance with the standards of the world. Jesus challenges us to embrace poverty and simplicity, to be concerned about justice and let mercy pour through us into the lives of others, keep our attentions firmly set on our eternal destination, then to be able to be strong in the face of misunderstanding and oppression. It is a tough job description. It is the job description of being a real Christian.