Reconciliation Lectionary: Matthew 5:1-12

mary-the-penitent.jpg

Here we have another Scripture passage used at weddings, and fairly often. I have experienced it a few times at funerals as well. (This site’s commentaries are mine for weddings and Fran’s for funerals.)

Why is this passage so loved? It’s not loved by Christians quite as much as the Jewish Decalogue. I’ve never heard of an effort to post the Eight Beatitudes in a public secular space. But let’s not deceive ourselves, this reading is part of the very fabric of our belief in Christ:

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.”

On weddings, I wrote over six years ago:

(T)he people we love most are damaged by our sins and failings. So we have a realism in our approach to marriage. We might fight and hurt each other, but hopefully one of us has the presence of mind and spirit to help pull the other back from the precipice.

(W)e can encourage one another and eventually our children to act and feel toward others as we act and feel in the daily expression of our marriage covenant.

If a couple has chosen the Beatitudes for their Wedding Gospel, a good reminder may be in order when we have sinned against our partner. A spiritual director might guide us in this. But the reflection, and connection is up to us. A memorable reading needs to be in our minds. We need to be reminded.

In her commentary some two years ago Fran reminded us that God offers promises and keeps them:

Matthew’s words bring forth the promise of heaven, and the offer of hope. The words of this passage illustrate this clearly, along with the gift of consolation and a glimpse of the Kingdom, so necessary for those in a time of great need.

The time of death and mourning is certainly one of great need. Serious sin also presents a key moment for the believer. If we recognize we have great need, God will certainly not abandon a promise offered freely, generously, and sincerely.

This is a surprisingly complex reading. Maybe it’s too much unless a preacher has a clear plan in the communal setting of form II. Maybe the framers of the Penance Lectionary thought the mercy verse was key:

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

For sins, especially small ones, maybe the big concepts of hope and love are too vast for meaningful consideration. Sometimes, we might just need simple reminders that if we want to be forgiven, perhaps we should get a feel for that from the side of mercy. Mercy for our loved ones, our friends, and even the people we don’t know.

About these ads

About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Rite of Penance, Scripture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s