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Gospel Reflection

Exemple

Gospel Reflection

Hardly any statements in the Gospels are more challenging than the Beatitudes and Woes with which Jesus begins his sermon. To understand them we have to attend to the context of the sermon and the biblical meaning of beatitude.

The context is that Jesus is instructing his disciples before a great multitude of burdened and afflicted people who have come from far and near to access his healing power. The implication is that the disciples are to be something for this troubled wider group, and Jesus is going to tell them how.

In the biblical tradition “Blessed …” does not strictly speaking indicate a moral attitude to be adopted. A beatitude declares a person to be in a fortunate or advantageous position. They are “in a good place” because what will soon come about through the faithfulness of God.

Jesus is not endorsing poverty or hunger. He is insisting that what most people reckon to be advantages and disadvantages are relativized because God is on the side of the poor, rather than the rich and well off, and will move to reverse the situation—as Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). What the Beatitudes depict is a preparedness to be vulnerable in view of this sense of God.

This brings us back to the context in which this instruction is given: the afflicted multitude longing for healing. A vulnerable community can become for the afflicted an instrument of healing and life. It is those who approach the wounded with vulnerable love, rather than power, who make the world safe for humanity.

Fr Brendan Byrne SJ

 

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St James The Apostle