4th Sunday Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: January 29, 2023
Sometimes as I reflect on the Scripture readings in preparing for a Homily, I really find it difficult. Some passages seem so profound, so deep, so important, that I feel overwhelmed. I wonder if anything I say is going to be too abstract or simplistic or superficial. That I will not be able to get to the full radical nature of a passage. The Beatitudes is definitely one of those passages.
As I was struggling this week, I noticed a tweet from a Pastor who was reflecting on the Beatitudes to preach this week. He said, “I spent 3 hours today trying to wrap my head around the Beatitudes for this coming Sunday and my brain is actual mush.” I saw several others like that. It made me feel better that I am not alone in struggling to preach on such a profound passage. In fact, the Beatitudes might be the most important teaching of Jesus. As I was struggling with how to preach on this passage I began to remember a movie I recently saw called Broker.
It is a Korean film by one of my favourite Directors. The film shows a number of misfit characters, each of them struggling in life. Each of them living without a family. One whose mother abandoned him as a baby and who spent his whole life hoping she would return for him. Another who was rejected by the mother of his young daughter and was not able to have contact with his daughter. A woman who was in poverty and so was working as a prostitute and felt forced to abandon a new born baby conceived by one of her customers. And a little 6 year old boy from an orphanage, who was abandoned and longed for a family, who snuck into their vehicle.
I will not get into the details of the movie, but at one point as they are out on this journey together, they gradually form a strange little family. One that none of them had ever had before. At a certain moment, the little boy turns to the baby who they were trying to abandon, and says, “thank you for being born.”
Then one by one they turn to each person in the group and say, “thank you for being born.” Maybe for the first time in their lives that they had someone who was thankful that they were born. It struck me that the Beatitudes are ultimately about how we are Blessed by a God who offers us a family and who speaks to our heart, “thank you for being born.”
The Beatitudes reveal the dream of God, for a world where no one is abandoned, where the life of each person is appreciated. It is not about spiritual giants who are impeccable spiritually and morally. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Those of us who have nothing spiritually to offer and everything to receive. Think of the prodigal son who says, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” Only to see for the first time all that he had in having a Father.
When you are poor in spirit, feel that you do not pray enough, do not pray well, you are still blessed. For God says, you are my beloved. When you are mourning, life seems sad and lonely, you are still blessed, for God says, you are my beloved. When you are meek and gentle, but seem to lose in life, you are still blessed, for God says, you are my beloved. When you see war and violence and division in our world, be a peacemaker, for you are blessed by God who says, you are my Beloved.
The Beatitudes are about God’s dream. It is not about being strong, successful, winning, earning God’s love. You are blessed, you are the beloved of God. God is trying to say to you “thank you for being born.” We are to live in such a way that no one is abandoned, that each person feels in our presence that they are beloved.
I want each of you to turn to the people on either side of you now and say to them, “thank you for being born.”
Living the Beatitudes is about being with others so that they feel that in their heart.