Grace to you!
We continue our reflections on the Sermon on the Mount.
The Gospel of Matthew 5:17-19 shows how Jesus contrasts his teaching from those of the Scribes and the Pharisees with regard to the Law (Torah) and the Prophets.
While many of the Rabbis tend to make less very serious aspects of God’s Commandment regarding sin, and promote those aspects that are more or less social in nature, Jesus stated he has come to fulfill what God established from the beginning.
The standards he proposed were shocking to many. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).
Take note that the Pharisees were the strictest observers of the Torah, and the Prophets and the Scribes were the most knowledgeable about them.
While my reflection today wouldn’t focus on the above contrast, which is very crucial to understanding the life Jesus wants us to lead, it plays on a background to the disposition we should have in dealing with things or actions that make us disrespect God’s Law or Word. We call those sins.
The Second Beatitude (that is my main theme today) says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).
To connect well with this promise, may we see it in the light of awe of the Lord, as well as the proper disposition we should have to receive enduring consolation. The beatitudes, far from being ethical principles, are powerful spiritual dispositions everyone should have to be blessed. Though some may sound like a skill or virtue, they are probably not. They are a disposition that makes us God’s blessed.
What should be our disposition towards sin and towards keeping God’s commandments? When we falter or see others do the same, how do we feel about it?
You know that a society has lost a sense of divine blessedness when they are numb to serious sins. It’s like constant exposure to violence making people numb to graphic, violent scenes. We shouldn’t get so accustomed to sin in such a way we no longer mourn about its disastrous consequences.
The Greek word used by the Lord Jesus Christ to describe those who mourn is πενθουντες “Penthoutes.” Such are the people, he said, that will receive comfort.
This expresses the idea of those who are deeply sorry when they sin against God or against their neighbor. It’s equally a disposition of feeling sorrow, deep sorrow, for the sins of the world or when evil is committed. It’s that kind of sorrow, or pain that the saints feel motivating them to practice spiritual exercises of fasting, praying, almsgiving or mortification (self-denials or offerings) for the salvation of others.
You are indeed blessed if you feel sorrow for sins. The most perfect of it is when the sorrow springs from pure love of God who is so good to us. We call it, perfect contrition.
May God give us the grace to understand the terrible consequences of sins so as to abhor sin for what it is. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.