Living in According with the Scriptures with Christ as our Model, 10th Monday (II), June 6, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. Norbert
June 6, 2016
1 Kings 17:1-6, Ps 121, Mt 5:1-12

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily. 

  • Today the Church celebrates St. Norbert (1080-1134), a great convert after he had received priestly orders out of a desire to get ahead in the German court, who founded a reformed religious order called the Premonstratensians and was eventually made a reforming bishop. At his conversion, which happened as he was injured in a terrible fall from a horse during a storm, the Lord spoke to him saying “Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” That’s what he did. After his conversion, and precisely learning from his formerly worldly ways, he would call others to “live according to the norms of the Scriptures with Christ as their model.” That’s a fitting summary of his life. That’s a fitting summary of the Christian life. That’s a key to understand today’s readings, especially the Gospel, in which Christ gives us the summit of Scriptural focus on the Christian life in the Beatitudes and then enfleshes them in his own way of life.
  • In the Beatitudes, we have Christ’s own proclamation of the state of blessedness, which is not necessarily coextensive with the subjective state of happiness. In them, Jesus calls those in various particular conditions “blessed,” and then he takes about a corresponding reward. It’s noteworthy that Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are those praying everyday, who are fasting, tithing, regularly going to worship.” All of those would make sense. He actually blesses situations that in the mindset of the world might seem like curses. And, with one exception, he proclaims “future” rather than “present” rewards — using the future verb tense — meaning that even those who are in such situations may not realize how blessed they indeed are.
    • He pronounces blessed those who are poor in spirit, which doesn’t mean merely detached, but means they are so poor they don’t even own their “spirit,” but need God to give them every breath. Jesus says that theirs “is” the kingdom of heaven, because they’re already living in a state in which they relate every inhalation to God’s providence.
    • He says we’re blessed when we mourn, because then he comes to console us in our desolation.
    • He declares we’re blessed when we’re meek, which is not weak, but a form of courage that, conscious that we will inherit all God’s inheritance, we don’t have to respond with anger and retaliation to every provocation.
    • He states that we’re blessed when we’re hungering and thirsting for holiness, for being in a right relationship with God and with others, for others’ having their rights respected, because in that spiritual starvation and parched situation God can fill us with his living water and his nourishment.
    • He announces that the merciful are blessed, because they’re like the Father, and will open themselves up to receive the fullness of his merciful love.
    • He proclaims that the clean of heart are blessed because they see God. The way we become pure in heart is by keeping our eyes on Christ and purifying ourselves of all other distractions.
    • The peacemakers are likewise blessed because they’re behaving as children of God and will so be regarded.
    • And most paradoxically of all, Jesus says that those who are persecuted, insulted, and calumniated are blessed and will have a great reward in heaven because they will experience a union with the prophets and even with Jesus before them.
  • None of these states seems particularly blessed on earth. They indicate things opposite to the path many in the world take. But Jesus lived all of them and is asking us to align our lives with the state of blessedness in this world, the state that allows us to enter much more into God’s life, mind and ways.
  • The Prophet Elijah is one who did. He was persecuted for the sake of righteousness and multiple times needed to flee, as God instructed him to do in today’s first reading. But it was there that he was able to become poor in spirit, being fed by the water of the Wadi Cherith and eating the meager portions brought to him by ravens.
  • To help us, God gives us something greater than what he provided Elijah. He gives us his son’s Body as our meat and his Blood as our drink, to strengthen us for a task even greater than that given to Elijah, to enflesh Christ’s own way of life in the Beatitudes and to show the world, as St. Norbert did, how to live in accordance with the Scriptures.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 1 KGS 17:1-6

Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab:
“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve,
during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word.”
The LORD then said to Elijah:
“Leave here, go east
and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan.
You shall drink of the stream,
and I have commanded ravens to feed you there.”
So he left and did as the LORD had commanded.
He went and remained by the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan.
Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning,
and bread and meat in the evening,
and he drank from the stream.

Responsorial Psalm PS 121:1BC-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (see 2) Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
I lift up my eyes toward the mountains;
whence shall help come to me?
My help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
May he not suffer your foot to slip;
may he slumber not who guards you:
Indeed he neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the guardian of Israel.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade;
he is beside you at your right hand.
The sun shall not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your life.
The LORD will guard your coming and your going,
both now and forever.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Alleluia MT 5:12A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad;
for your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

St Norbert with the Eucharist