Reflection on Matthew 5.1-12 (Ordinary Time; DEL Week 10: Monday)

Reflection for DEL Week 10: Monday 12 June 2023 (Ordinary Time), on Matthew 5.1-12

Matthew 5.1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’


Jesus taught his disciples, saying: ‘Blessed are …’

Today’s reading is the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, that great collection of teaching that Jesus lays out at the beginning of his earthly ministry. Immediately following his temptation in the wilderness and the calling of his first disciples Jesus went up the mountain and taught. As we read this great ‘sermon’ (Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7) we hear Jesus’ teaching on the law and the prophets, anger, adultery, divorce, the swearing of oaths, retaliation, love for enemies, almsgiving, prayer, fasting, our relationship with money, worry and self-deception. This sermon lays out, in unequivocal words, all that will unfold as Jesus journeys towards the climax of his mission and ministry on earth.

Today’s reading is the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, and it presents us with a series of counter-cultural statements that immediately fly in the face of how day-to-day human existence seems to work. The Beatitudes are a series of ‘blessings’ that consist of two phrases: the condition that is blessed and the result of that blessing. When viewed as a whole, The Beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility, rather than force and exploitation. The blessings of which Jesus speaks in today’s reading echo the highest ideals of spirituality and compassion.

In some translations of the Bible the word blessed is translated as happy. When we read these statements, which seem to contradict everything we understand about human existence, we would do well to bear in mind both ‘blessedness’ and ‘happiness’. Too often we struggle with holding on to the joy of our faith. Too often we allow our spirits to be depressed by the apathy and opposition we encounter as we go about our daily lives. Too often we allow the negativity of the secular world to infect and corrupt the sheer joy (happiness) that is the calling of every Christian.

In today’s reading we are being reminded of the ultimate joy and happiness that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Let us pray that, no matter what may befall us day by day, we may never lose sight of Christ’s call to rejoice and be glad. And when the days are dark and our mood is even darker, let us remember Jesus’ promise to all who believe in him: for your reward is great in heaven.