10th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, June 7
2 Cor 1:1-7 / Matthew 5:1-12
God comforts for a reason; God helps us so that we may help others.
A minister lost both legs as a result of war injuries. Consequently, he was unable to continue his work as pastor of his flock. The loss of his ministry proved to be as painful as the loss of his legs.
Do we believe that God can write straight with crooked lines? "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace." St. Francis of Assisi
“As we have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so do we share in his consolation,” Paul tells us today. The prelude to Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians is a practical presentation of the Matthean second Beatitude: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Depression is a word that I never fully understood until I was well into my ministry. It is not simply experiencing a “low or “feeling bad.” It is a psychological state of mind that calls for the help of a professional person. At one time I sat for lengthy periods with a man who twelve years prior had urged his pregnant fiancée to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. His failure had been dealt with sacramentally and spiritually years before. But he never succeeded in overcoming his deep sense of guilt. His failure kept returning and, try as he would, he remained unconvinced that God had forgiven him.
Paul speaks today of the encouragement in his life and ministry that comes from God the Father. It is that spirit of endurance that flows from faith that enables Paul to bring encouragement to those who suffer. Just as his difficulties are endured for others, so too the encouragement that he receives redounds to the good of others. He is quite confident for the Corinthians. If they share in his sufferings, they share in his encouragement as well.
Encouragement goes beyond words. There are times when there is nothing to say. What is needed is simply a calming presence. To sit quietly at the bedside of a very sick person. To hold a hand, to say a prayer, to kiss a furrowed brow. These are ways in which encouraging comes to life.
A beatitude is a formula of the Bible or foundation of our spirituality, which says: Happy are you or blessed are you. It expresses a praise or congratulation which is given to a person for an exemplary good quality. The first three beatitudes give the attitude towards God. Before God we are very small. We need him. Those needy, aware of their smallness, are the poor. They accept God's will readily because they are gentle and meek. They know the power of evil, which comes between them and God.
They mourn. To overcome this evil, he brought us the good news. The next five beatitudes are the moral attitude or the relationship of man to man: Justice. mercy, purity of heart, peace and endurance in persecution and in carrying the cross. A blessing is a prayer that God may give to keep us in these right attitudes. These will make us true Christians and change our life on earth and in heaven.
What Jesus proposes in the beatitudes is a turning upside-down of values, (attuned with the message of Paul in Year I). But we are not too eager to take them seriously; they are too uncomfortable... Many say they are utopian, but that can be said of many parts of the gospel, unless you believe. Followers of Christ are dreamers, of a brotherhood of all people, of a better world and a better earth.
Lord our God, when your Son spoke his good news to people who were poor and blind, they understood him, for they knew what its means not to be satisfied and not to see. Make us poor with the hungry, groping with the blind, powerless with the defenseless and small with the little people, that we may experience the message of the Gospel: to the marrow of our bones and share it as good news with all those around, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen