WHICH VALUE SYSTEM DO WE FOLLOW?

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June 8, 2020 – Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060820.cfm)

(This article is not a usual weekday homily as one may find this too long. This was first used as a recollection material given to a group Redemptorist Seminarians.)

As we live our Christian vocation and commit ourselves to Jesus, the Redeemer, we encounter both joys and sorrows in our life. We also encounter temptations and challenges as disciples of Jesus. The world that we live in, the environment that we are situated with both provides challenges and opportunities for growth in our commitment to God and to our Christian Faith. 

It would be very good then to make ourselves aware of the dynamics present in our world and in particular, in our small environment. It would be advantage to examine and be made aware of the “value systems of the modern world” that offers easy and comfortable alternative for us in living our Religious and missionary vocation and Christian Vocation in general.

But then, we should also ask honestly ourselves, will these value systems bring me closer to myself, to my neighbors and to God? Or will they only lead me farther?

These are the Value Systems of the Modern World.

  1. Happy are the rich and powerful, those who possess plenty because they can have whatever they want and do things instantly.
  2. Happy are the popular and pompous because they all have the praises and attention of everyone now.
  3. Happy are those who do not care of other people’s suffering for they will not be affected by such trouble.
  4. Happy are those who only stay in their own comfort zones and do not dare to give them up for they feel secured there.
  5. Happy are the aggressive; for they will get anything they want, no matter what.
  6. Happy are the proud and the arrogant because inferior people will bow on them.
  7. Happy are the bullies and haters because they will have a lot of fun over other people’s pain and weaknesses.
  8. Happy are those who do not speak up and stand up for justice, who choose not to see and hear oppression and injustice for their lives will be out of trouble and there will be no persecution from the powerful.

These value systems are, indeed, attractive and tempting because they promise security but false security. They seemingly promise comfort and happiness for a moment but nothing for tomorrow. These values keep us away from becoming true disciples of Jesus. These are rather values of an UNBELIEVER, a secular person who rejects God’s goodness and the beauty and wonder of his/her neighbor.

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Let me share with you THIS REFLECTION ON the Sermon on the Mount by Sharla Guenther

We use the word bless a lot but perhaps we don’t know what it really means.

If someone sneezes we usually hear someone say, “bless you!”  It is not completely clear why we say that but the word ‘bless’ is a positive word.

Jesus had been walking with his disciples always teaching and talking with them.  More and more people would see Jesus and follow him because they could sense there was something special about him.  The way he spoke and what he spoke about captured everyone’s attention.

This was one of those days when people had been following and Jesus decided to stop on a hillside with his disciples and taught those who wanted to listen.

Jesus made ten points in the first part of his sermon known as the beatitudes.  All except one of these points start with the word blessed.  So we should probably figure out what the word means before we continue.

To be blessed is to be more than happy.  

Life does not always go our way, or the way we plan and expect it to be. Because of this, it does not make us happy. However, being blessed is being full of joy on the inside even if things are not perfect. Being blessed is to be grateful in life even if there are also things or aspect in our life that may seem to be lacking. 

Thus, to be blessed is a deeper joy because we know, as believers, that the spirit of God lives in us.

Now let us see each one the Beatitudes and the invitations for us.

  1. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Being poor in spirit means that we are not attached to all the stuff that we have.  That you understand that God has given you all the great things or blessings and we should be very thankful and even willing to give them up or share them with others.  All our things on earth do not matter because we cannot take them with us to heaven, which will be more amazing than we can imagine.
    • To be poor in spirit also means to become confident in the providence of God, in his grace upon us. It invites us then to grow in that confidence but at the same time also to embrace the feeling of our insecurity. Hence, it is okay to feel inadequate, to feel our poverty, to feel our emptiness and lacking in something. Remember, it is when we are empty that God can also fill us. God will not be able to fill us up when we are already full of many things.
    • Chairman Cha in a K-Drama entitled Clean with Passion For Now, said, “To fill up, you must be empty and in order to grab, you must let go.”
  2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Mourning is when we are really sad. Perhaps you have cried because you got hurt or someone you knew died, but this is different from that.  This is being very upset about those people who have not heard about God or being upset about the sin in our life.  We might not think about these things very much yet but as we get closer to God this will bother us and that’s okay.  God promises to comfort us when we need it.
    • To mourn and be sorrowful of our personal sins is not about ‘being guilty.’ Guilt only leads us away from the mercy of God and from the chance of renewing our life. Guilt makes us imprisoned of our own failures and sins. To mourn is to be truly sorry of our sins with the intention to be transformed by God. To mourn accepts God’s forgiveness and allowing ourselves to be led and transformed by God in the way God want’s us to be.
  3. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.  Being meek is being patient and gentle, not easily angered and not thinking of ourselves too highly.  A bad example of this in the Bible was the Pharisees.  They would make sure people knew that they were fasting and praying and seemed proud about what they were doing for God.  Except God is looking for us to do these things without putting on a show for others but doing it just for God, not for approval from others.
    • This is an invitation for us to grow in humility, to seek God’s favor and not our own favor, to seek God’s glory and not our personal glory. Our person, our talents, intelligence and many gifts are not instruments to merely boast oneself but ways for us to recognize better our God, the giver of gifts. Thus, be mindful when we will tend to draw attention and recognition from others, when we become conscious of our self-image that we also become arrogant and worst will refuse to be corrected or criticized by our friends. 
  4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled.  Being righteous is impossible on our own.  Can we always do the right for God?  No, and God knows that.  We can do our best to do the right thing and if we don’t, we can always ask forgiveness and be renewed.  The verse not only asks us to try to be righteous but to hunger and thirst for it.  Have you ever been really hungry and thirsty?  To be truly hungry and thirsty you might have to go without food or water for more than a day or two. God wants us to need and feel like we’re starving for righteousness and He will fill us up with it.
    • This invites not to remain passive in our baptismal vows but to live our vows pro-actively. It means that we are called to exercise righteousness with full consciousness. Yet, let us also remember that at times we may fall asleep, but then, be always aware of your attitudes so that you will also be able to wake up again. In other words, make it your heart’s desire to live your Christian life with honesty, sincerity and gratitude.
  5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.  To have mercy is to be loving and kind to others.  This does not mean just being loving and kind to your family and friends but also to those whom you might not know and even those you don’t like. Those who are ready to forgive the offense of others, shall be forgiven. The merciful tastes the forgiveness of sins and innumerable blessings of this life.
    • This invites us to always exercise mercy as the hallmark of our Christian vocation in the way we relate with ourselves, with our family and friends and enemies. This calls us more when we are ask to show mercy to those who have offended us or who have sinned against us.
  6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Being pure is like having a clean heart.  Like the heart inside of us, it pumps blood and keeps us alive and if something is wrong with our heart, we won’t work right.  Jesus is talking about the place where we think and make decisions, why we do things, and our thoughts.  If we keep our mind, thoughts and decisions full of good, God says we’ll understand Him more as we see Him better in all things and in every people we meet. This is a call for sincerity in our words, deeds and piety.
    • This invites us now to examine our intentions and motivations. What is really in my heart now? What is it that keeps me going? Or what is it that prevents me from accepting myself fully and welcoming God in my life? Or what is it that keeps me bothering now, which disturbs me a lot? Hopefully, in treating those questions, they too will lead us in purifying our intentions so that we too shall see God clearly, ever working in our lives.
  7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  The simplest way to explain this is someone who makes peace.  Helping others to get along would be a big part of it.  The second part of this beatitude says: then you will be called the children of God.  Being God’s child would mean that you truly are a part of God’s family and that you’re starting to be more like Him; just like when we are with our parents. This is an assurance that God is indeed our Father for God is a God of peace.
    • This invites us too to seek peace in our hearts and minds, peace in ourselves. If we do not have peace, then, how can we become peacemakers? What we can only give is that something we have at present. Thus, seek peace, let God give you that peace so that in return then, you too will be able to make peace with others and inspire others for peace.
  8. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  God knows that being who He wants us to be is not the way the world acts.  By doing the opposite of the world we will be made fun of or worst, because people don’t understand why we don’t do things only for ourselves.  By living a life that does things for others confuses the way the world thinks.  A lot of people in the world want beauty, money, fame and attention and don’t care about others as long as they get what they want.  This is opposite to the life God wants us to lead.  Doing the right thing isn’t easy but God wants us to know that the kingdom of heaven is waiting for us if we can get through the tough times in this life.
    • It invites us now to always seek God’s desire for us, God’s desire for me. God’s desire may not be popular. God’s desire for us may be different from what others desire for us or from our own desire. Always seek that and be ready to let go of other desires because it is in following God’s desire that we shall also find the fulfillment. But remember this, in seeking and following God’s desire, others may not like it or we may not like it too, we might be facing oppositions from our friends and family and even our very selves. 

God calls us to be different than the rest of the world.

The beatitudes end by saying that we should rejoice and be glad because by following these we will receive great treasures in heaven.

God promises that we will be blessed when we follow these teachings but it won’t be easy.  We all are still figuring out how to do these things, but don’t be discouraged.  God calls us to be different than the rest of the world.

Keep in mind that the beatitudes are impossible to do without God’s help.  He wants to help us and to become a big part of decisions you make and in all that you do. Give to God, then, that opportunity to work in you and through you.

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Remember, Jesus didn’t give us these beatitudes and then wants us to fail.  He wants to give us something to aim for.  He wants us to do our best and give us a life full of blessings not just for tomorrow in heaven but even today.

For a deeper reflection, let this contemporary interpretation on the Beatitudes challenge and lead us closer to the Lord.

Jesus’ Beatitudes Today

  1. Blessed are you who recognize your need of God because you will give yourself to the providence of God’s love to direct your life.
  2. Blessed are you who feels sorrow for your sins against God and your brothers and sisters and to repent, because you will find true comfort from God’s loving forgiveness.
  3. Blessed are you who choose not to live by your selfish tendencies but will give yourself to God because you will find and have the important things in your life.
  4. Blessed are you when you truly desire to please God and not others or yourself alone because that deepest desire of yours will be fulfilled.
  5. Blessed are you who love, care, serve others, heal the wounded and comfort the sorrowful because you too will surely be shown mercy.
  6. Blessed are you as you dedicate your life sincerely in doing the will of God because in that pursuit you will have a deeper understanding of being God’s beloved.
  7. Blessed are you who strive to promote peace and reconciliation because you yourself will become a witness and instrument of God.
  8. Blessed are you when you stand for what is right, just and true even in the midst of accusations, insults and persecutions because you will have an everlasting joy with God.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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