January 29, 2017

A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” –  1/29/17  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you this day!

If there’s anything that we love, it is making things better.  I mean, hopefully, that’s our goal always, with everything!  We are constantly trying to improve our lives for ourselves and our families.  And we’ve come along way, since the cavemen.  You ever think of what a caveman would say or think, if they came to visit your house and were sitting in your family room?  And they thought fire was the greatest thing!  Now you can watch a fire on a big screen TV, or on your phone!  So we’ve improved our phones.  They don’t have to be attached to the wall anymore, now you can carry them in your pocket.  And we’ve improved our cars.  Now they brake for us, and park for us, and very soon, they will be driving for us!  And we continue to improve our toothpaste.  No, it’s true.  The other day, I bought a tube of Crest toothpaste, the same toothpaste that I have used all my life, and right there, on the tube of toothpaste, it said, “New and improved”.  What is it about those words that we just love?  And again, Crest toothpaste has been around for years, how many times can they possibly make it “new and improved”?  What do they do, make it more minty fresh?  What I’m really waiting for automonous toothpaste.  I want toothpaste that brushes my teeth for me.  Now that would be new and improved.

Today we come to Mass and we hear Jesus’ Beatitudes from St. Matthew’s Gospel.  And today, what we’re really getting is God’s plan for how to make our lives better.  O.K, so we’ve got better phones, and better cars, and better toothpaste, but what has to happen for us, to be better?  The Beatitudes answers that question!  We could be so much happier, so much more complete, so much better, if we lived our time in this world, by God’s values, and not the passing values of this world!  That’s the secret to US being better!  The Beatitudes bring us a whole new way of living, if we dare to give it a chance!

You see, the Beatitudes turn this world’s standards upside down!  Happiness in being poor in spirit?  The world would laugh at this!  That’s crazy according the world!  The world says that happiness is found in aggressiveness, ambition, and success in competition.  And truthfully, the Beatitudes are about our happiness.  To be better, we want to be happier, but happier for the long haul, and for the right reasons.

This is important because happiness is given to us by God, not the world.  We don’t win it.  We don’t achieve it.   We don’t merit it.  We can’t buy it.  Everyone can happiness!  In fact, our God desires our happiness, our eternal happiness.  When it comes to happiness, we can all be winners.  We can all have it, even if we’re poor, or grieving, or meek, or even persecuted!  We can all have happiness and fulfillment!  Jesus teaches us that it will come to people with open hands, humble hearts, and receptive spirits.  The Kingdom and this kind of happiness is God’s free gift to us.

And we’re not going to find this kind of happiness at the mall, or on Amazon Prime, or on a TV talk show!  We’ll find this kind of happiness in our serving of others!  The people who have this kind of happiness, as expressed in the Beatitudes,  are people who know how to use their talents and abilities to serve God and God’s interests, rather than their own!  This is so true!  And nobody else is telling us this today!  We need the Beatitudes.  Who knew, that the secret to us being so much better, lies not in getting more for ourselves, but completely in what we can do for God and others!  CNN and Fox News have never told us that!  The Beatitudes challenge us to hunger for a better world in which we care for each other, a world in which we are willing to forgive others and seek reconciliation with others.  Real happiness, then, can never be selfish or self-centered.  And that’s a message that our world is never going to understand.   And only with real Faith, will we be able to comprehend!

It’s going to make us seem a little different from everybody else!  In our Second reading today, St. Paul reminded us that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the  lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing, those who are something.   The Beatitudes teach us about the values of an everlasting Kingdom that we are soon to be part of.  Let us be ready for that Kingdom!  Let us prepare by living by those values, that new and improved way of life, right now!  We really can be better!  Not just our phones, and our cars, and our toothpaste, but each one of us can be so much better than we realize.  Let’s be better today by living according to God’s values!

May God bless us today,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                                                          AMEN !!!