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Friday, January 28, 2011



    The world has heard the greatest speeches in history beginning with the Greek orators Pericles, Plato and Cicero until the most recent times by men and women whose speeches have made a great impact in the world.  But none of them can ever equal the greatest speech ever spoken by man, that is the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus.
The Beatitudes that we heard from the gospel today is the introduction of the Sermon on the Mount which is the second of the seven sermons of Jesus.  There are two versions of the Sermon on the Mount by St. Matthew and St. Luke.  St. Luke addresses the materially poor while Matthew added the moral attitude, a disposition which is required by the hearer. Many biblical scholars believe that the Beatitudes are not the original words of Jesus but rather a compilation of the teachings of Jesus or catechetical instructions we call kerygma.
The best seller books in the world are often about how to be rich, how to stay young and beautiful, and how to have power.  Certainly because these are all the ingredients of success and greatness according to worldly standards.  This is the reason why most of our parents would form and  educate their children towards this goal: to be successful in life!  Why? Because the world teaches us that happiness is measured by success.  So everyone wants to be successful because they want to be happy.
For us Christians, the Beatitudes of Jesus is the true standard of true happiness.  We can say that it is the magna carta that one has to follow if he wants to be he happy in the truest sense of the word.  If we can summarize the beatitudes in one sentence, it would be: Blessed are the poor!  For Matthew, the poor here means those people who bow before God and expect everything from him, those who are oppressed who can only turn to God and those who renounced their possessions and take poverty themselves for the love of God.
The Beatitudes is not the glorification of poverty or the canonization of the poor per se.  The poor are blessed not because of their poverty but because God takes side with them.  This is the reason why Jesus became poor.  When we are poor in the truest sense of the word, we have nothing except God.  The materially rich are still poor when they are detached from their riches.  The basis of all this is our nakedness and nothingness before God.  Before God, we are all poor!  Our happiness lies in living and accepting it.
I was once assigned as a parish priest in one of the poorest islands in the Philippines and I have seen and experienced myself what real poverty is together with my people.  They might lack even the basic necessities of life but in their simplicity, they are a happy people.
Isn’t it true that we can only enjoy material things as much, our youth  fades and power is only temporary?  At the end when everything is spent and taken away from us, we have only God and ourselves.  This has been what the saints have discovered after following the Beatitudes:  that the true happiness is finding God in our lives who is the only one who can make us truly happy if only we accept that we need him.

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