Readings: 1 Kings 17:1-6, Ps. 121, Matthew 5:1-12

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

The Beatitudes represent a radical way of life because what Jesus recommends in these Beatitudes differs from what we normally do. To claim to be a person of faith, you must be prepared to go beyond the ordinary; faith demands some level of radicality, just like Elijah in today’s first reading. Elijah was not like everyone else. Elijah was determined to swim against the tide; he chose the narrow path as Jesus would say: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

- Stop trying to be like everyone else. Though we live in the world, we do not belong to this world. (cf. John 15:19). We have been called and chosen. We are not following the world’s trends sheepishly because we are the sheep of Christ. That fashion may be trending, and everyone around you thinks it is cool; even your fellow Christians do not see anything wrong in it, but you know that this dress exposes your nakedness and makes people desire you sexually. Be like Elijah, don’t wear it. Choose to dress as a child of God. Soon, you will be a trailblazer; everyone will want to dress like you. Become a pathfinder for good.

- I cannot promise you will have a jolly ride when you refuse to follow the trend around you. You will experience much pain; you will be hated by many; even your family members will disown you. You will be forced to run from one town to another like Elijah. Jesus said: “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and all will hate you for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes.” (Matthew 10:21-23). If you are prepared to serve God, your priorities must change; you cannot be chasing the American dream (to have lots of cars and houses that you wouldn’t know which is which, to have so much money laid up in all kinds of accounts that you wouldn’t need to work a single day yet you can afford whatever you fancy) and heaven simultaneously.

- God will never abandon you amid whatever sufferings you encounter defending your faith. “Blessed are you when men 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.” (Matthew 5:11-12). Your reward is great in heaven, but it begins here on earth. Don’t be afraid; God sends His consolations when He knows we are suffering on His behalf. God sent Angels to console Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. God did not wait for Elijah to die before sending ravens to feed him. It is said that ravens are the stingiest birds on earth, yet of all the other animals on earth, it was ravens that God chose. This teaches us that God makes a way where there seems to be no way. Don’t believe the devil when he tells you that you don’t have a choice; you do. Choose death (that is, choose the option of good over evil), and God will be there to defend you.

- Practice the Beatitudes; they contain keys to supernatural happiness. We all desire happiness, but the problem is that we don’t know how to turn on the happiness switch. Jesus proposes some tips in today’s Gospel passage. At face value, it seems Jesus is trying to take away our happiness (Jesus even said: “Blessed are those who mourn”), but all I can say is that a trial will convince you. Be poor in spirit; be humble; seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness; acknowledge your need for God; put God first in any decision; and be open to God’s will and teachings. Mourn when you see evil going on; do not be indifferent to indecency or immorality; some jokes should not be heard from you.

- Practice the Beatitudes; be merciful, and forgive quickly and completely. I will tell you one secret: “No one ever became happy because of revenge.” Inflicting pain on others because they hurt you in the past only increases your sorrows. Whatever you give out, you get back double, and the cycle never ends. Let the pain end with you; forgive and let everything go. Be a peacemaker; do not let yourself become an instrument others use to fight their enemies or settle quarrels and disputes. Be pure in heart; do not wish evil for anybody; do not make room for evil spirits in your heart by watching pornography or feasting on indecent thoughts. There is no happiness in the misuse of your sexual organs because the pleasure you derive from such is fleeting, but the painful consequences continue to hunt you all through your life. Try these beatitudes; they are not difficult; they are God’s recipe for lasting happiness.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, give me the courage to follow the beatitudes. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God's abundant blessings be upon us all. (Monday of week 10 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Kings 17:1-6, Ps. 121, Matthew 5:1-12).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu