January 28-29: Preparing to Celebrate Sunday’s Mass

St. Matthew’s Gospel was written originally in the Greek language. It might be helpful, therefore, to know that the Greek word makarioi (translated in Matthew 5, 1-12 as “blessed”) translates just as well as “happy,” or “deserving of honor,” or “highly esteemed.” What makes us happy? What is there about us that is deserving of honor? What is there about our lives that others might highly esteem?

Be sure to read verses 1-12 before coming to Mass this weekend. But keep in mind that Jesus’ categories of ‘blessed” or “happy” are very unusual. Are we happy when we grieve and mourn? Do we feel blessed when we are insulted? Do we esteem the meek? Are they happy who hunger and thirst for justice? Is it a blessing to be falsely accused or an honor to be persecuted?

In a world of “What you see is what you get…” and “You get what you pay for…” and “The more you make the more you can get…” the Lord’s categories for happiness can sound strange, odd, mistaken – and certainly paradoxical. In Matthew 5, as He so often does, Jesus turns upside down our assumptions and expectations: He turns them inside out and asks us to look again, and again, at what we take for granted … and to reevaluate our hopes and our dreams for true happiness.

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