Everyone in the Christian Tradition has heard about ‘The Sermon on the Mount’, or almost everyone. We have all been told that we best listen because, in our Judaic Christian Tradition, mountains or hills are sacred places…God speaks or acts on those places. Test your memory, starting with Mount Sinai.
In this extract, Jesus speaks!
The Beatitudes are a very popular choice at funerals and at weddings…so we hear them read, and sometimes beautifully proclaimed, often; and maybe that gives rise to another family discussion: “why do people choose these verses when they have a whole Bible to choose from?”
Today the Bendigo Advertiser had a small article on the much-discussed statement arising from Kellyanne Conway, the now President Trump’s adviser and former campaign manager. She invented the term ‘alternative facts’. Facts were always meant to be facts. There was meant to be a sense of truth about the facts, a sense that they had to measure up to some objectivity. But it seems no longer.
The scholars tell us that in the context of the times, the Beatitude “Blessed the pure in heart” is developed from Psalm. 24:3-4. This says that those who can ascend “the hill of the Lord” are people who have “clean hands and pure hearts. ‘Pure in heart’ refers to people of integrity whose moral uprighteousness extends to their innermost being and whose actions and intentions correspond. The same Kellyanne chastised us for making judgements based “upon what comes out of his (Trump’s) mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.” Really! George Orwell’s 1984 is not dead!
Other Beatitudes have inspired us and called us to work for the kingdom, now we may have to work for the preservation of our language and its meaning. Alice in Wonderland may still have a lesson for us.
Blessed the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
I believe that the call of Pope Francis to ask the Church, you and I, to rediscover the “smell of the sheep” was truly prophetic and in the tradition of this Sunday’s Gospel passage.
Trump begins his new administration at the centre. Jesus began his at the periphery. And in recent history Cardijn began his with the workers. Caffarel was asked by some couples to begin his in their homes to follow on the periphery.
It must have been a great temptation for any young or old preacher to hit the Temple in Jerusalem first. It was the centre. The important Government and religious leaders were all there. It was the City of David. It was the City of learning, yet Jesus went to Galilee, a small area about forty-five miles north to south with the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee as one border and the Samaritans on the south. Later generations will reflect that the sea border was inhabited by the Syro-Phoenicians! For one sent to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” there is a lesson in where the greater part of Jesus’s ministry was worked out. So often he was only on the “way up to Jerusalem”.
I write this in the wake of the terrible incident in Melbourne; many reflections and opinions will be offered in days ahead…our Gospel this day, reminds us that He went “proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.”
Still lots of work to be done.
In the meantime, we support those families who suffer the loss of their members and we strive to offer a hand of hospitality to all those traumatised.
There is still work on the periphery.
Paul uses the expression “knowledge of the mystery” in his words read to us today. It appears that this letter is written whilst he is locked up “in chains” and that he was writing to a community under some pressure, pressure that would build and build until the time of Constantine.
On the other hand, the wise men who came to King Herod were looking for the “infant King of the Jews”. In retrospect, not a wise question to that despot, Herod, who had a damning record in dealing with those, including his own family, who sought to oppose him.
Paul and Matthew are on about the same message but had different audiences.
How do you find Jesus?
What do you do when you find Jesus?
For Matthew, you pay homage, and offer gifts (and go home quickly by another route).
For Paul, your proclamation of “pagans now share the same inheritance” becomes the abiding demand, and so is born the mission given by Jesus to “go out to the whole world” etc.
For us, the call is still to pursue the task of ‘discovering Jesus’ even when we think we have done that. There is always another step, because He is the Son of God and we will always be seeking to discover more and more of him.
Yet again the New Year calls us to this task.