May Our Good Works Be Seen
It seems we gradually leave the Easter season. It is this Sunday, three weeks after Easter, that we return to Ordinary Time. Mark’s gospel that echoes such themes of Easter, like the passion and faith, is left behind as we turn now to Matthew.
We began with the Beatitudes yesterday hearing of the actions, attitudes and qualities of heart that make us Blessed. Each brings us into contact with God and with our brothers and sisters. We can convert them into real life situations and experiences.
Matthews’s gospel appeals to a Jewish audience. It knows the endless romance of God with our human family told in the Old Testament; God’s choice of Israel, the least not the greatest, in order to reveal the mystery of God’s love. The Jewish people are the chosen and privileged to witness to God’s love, to know that love so intimately. The acceptance of Jesus by the Jewish people did not happen as we could imagine. St. Paul, Pharisee who persecuted the early followers of Jesus and then a disciple himself, the great apostle to the Gentiles and martyr, concludes that God could never abandon the Chosen people. Despite the confusion and division God is at work still among those who were first called to know and witness to the love of God. All will come out right in the end, the mystery of God’s plan continues always to be at work. It is good to keep this in mind as we follow Matthew in the days ahead.
Matthew wants us, the followers of Jesus, to see that the one born of Mary is the Messiah, Emmanuel, and we now are a new Israel carrying forward God’s love for all creation. You are very important in our world as the love story of God continues to unfold. Matthew tells us simply: you are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city set upon a mountain.
In Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians we have an example and encouragement to live the Beatitudes. God has united us with Jesus, we are sealed and anointed, and as a first payment we are given the Holy Spirit. Blending Matthew and Paul today we can say that we draw from Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit the strength to live the Beatitudes. We share the joys of the Kingdom, the fruit of Jesus’ victory, as we follow Our Lord. So we can can mourn and be righteous, we can suffer evil that is even falsely brought against us. Strength and hope are ours already in Jesus’ victory.
And the Beatitudes bring the blessedness and happiness of the Kingdom of God to us that we can share with one another in daily life: being peacemakers and being merciful. The Holy Spirit enables us to make the Kingdom of God alive and present.
May the Spirit guide our hearing of the Word of the Scriptures these days, and help us to be the salt, the light and the city ablaze. The tastes of our world can be dull. Instead of gazing on the lovely, darkness can hide the vision of God’s love. May we work with the Spirit to renews the face of the earth.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.