One thing we see out around us is John 3:16. We see it on signs, at sporting events and other places. People seem to use it to remind us of Christ’s presence and his life and death. God gave his only Son so that those who believe might have eternal life. What we must remember, is that in John’s thought eternal life was the age to come, an age begun with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Of course, no idea of the age to come is possible without the Holy Spirit and his coming as the new age dawned. In this way, we can see that the gospel is meant to reflect the idea of the Trinity. I think we are all acutely aware that we believe in One God, three persons, but explaining it is beyond what is possible for us. It is hard for us to conceive that God is not material and who and what He is will come to light at some future time of our existence. What we do have is an experience of three persons, Father(or a parental being), Son and Holy Spirit. We know the Son at an appointed time entered the world to give his life so that creation could be restored to union with the Trinity. At the end of his time, the Son left(sent) his Spirit to keep alive his Word and to aid and inspire his followers as they proceeded to walk in the new life given by the Son. This is why we always invoke the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Theologians for centuries have written and speculated about God and Theology including the Trinity. Yet Thomas Aquinas after a lifetime of writing and after a mystical experience concluded his work was straw.
Faith is what is needed. We come to know God by faith and experience by opening ourselves to him. Christ physically comes in the Eucharist, but the Spirit abides in us if we permit and helps us form an intimate and positive relationships as we walk the path and the way of the new life given to believers.
As we grow up, we all looked at right and wrong in terms of black and white, yes or no. We saw law and morality as yes or no, as absolute. Only as we grew and matured did we see and understand the complexity and at times that there was a gray area in many laws and interpretations. We seem at times to look at things and call ourselves conservative or liberal. Yet, if we look at today’s gospel, and I chose the short form to more easily see its point. We see Jesus state the law, but actually reinterpret it to place it as not some ideal out there, but something flowing from our own interior disposition and passion. Anger is wrong and opposite to what we should be as Christians. God’s love and our love of God should enable and help us to control ourselves as persons and do far more than follow the letter of the law. Conservative or Liberal are labels and really irrelevant. Love begets compassion and relationships and should enable us to reach out and live our lives in God’s love with the Holy Spirit he has given us. Laws are for the most part, ideals to reach and follow, but obviously all of us fall short of the ideal at one time or another. It is then that God’s love and compassion will embrace us when we reach out to him, to discern with him what is the best for us. Christ is calling all of us to interiorize his message, to control our inner self and to be the salt and light he mentioned in last week’s gospel. This requires we walk with him and open our hearts. The Scribes and Pharisees were the teachers and followers of the law and insisted on it to the point others couldn’t follow it, because the poverty and difficulties of life itself made the many man-made prescriptions impossible to follow. Jesus clearly invoked compassion as his love embraced those caught up in such a way.
Jesus clearly has given a new life and a new way in proclaiming God’s love and a way of life coming from within the hearts and minds of his followers. Love, compassion, reaching out all called for a way to a new life that even now we as Christians and as Church are still struggling to achieve. Yet Christ’s love keeps us going and holds us together in our work and journey together. It is in our committing to him that we find the peace of heart and mind and find the patience and rest that we all seek, even as we continue on each day. Hopefully, it enables us to be that light that beams his message.
Today, we hear the beatitudes, the beginning of the Sermon on the mount. We must be careful of how we consider the beatitudes. Sometimes people look at them almost as rules or a set of commandments Jesus is giving. Some how they say Jesus is condemning wealth, etc. However, Jesus is expressing how we are blessed to be seeking out God. Just look at the first one, Blessed are the poor in Spirit. Those would be those who know and reach out to fill up their lives by coming to know God and what is the real fulfillment in life. Blessedness comes not from worldly fulfillment, but from our inner self, our soul reaching out and being filled up by the love of God. More typically, those seeking God and his love are often times the real poor, the people on the fringes of life and society, the neglected, the humble, the persecuted, the outsider. Those who have found comfort in life and action, have either found God or replaced him with “things”. Those blessed to live a life challenged by love and seeking God in all stages will in one way or another be comforted or find the kingdom of heaven. Living in poverty, seeking meekness, mourning, and the other blessings of the beatitudes are not
rules for living but blessings bestowed to prepare us to hear the good news Jesus will give in his preaching to come. His message is for all, but first a person must be ready in one way or another to be disposed to hear and live the word Jesus speaks. In Jesus time, society was divided in so many ways, it is hard to realize what all those divisions meant in learning the Good News. Jesus spoke mostly to Jews, but there were priests, pharisees, elders, and all kind of people plus Romans, slaves or other visitors from the Roman world. Ultimately, Jesus knew that not all were ready and he would die. He knew that some would hear and believe and his good news would carry on. But the beatitudes remain to remind us of the disposition we need to hear and follow the Word of Jesus.