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The Beatitudes …. Please!!!

This coming Sunday, February 2nd 2014, is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time for Year A, when we focus on Matthew’s gospel. You may also think of it as the fourth Sunday in the Epiphany season, when we focus on how God’s light shines out into our world through Christ and his Church. Either way, the Gospel reading this year is the opening of Matthew 5, you know The Beatitudes, which you won’t get to hear or preach for another three years if you celebrate the Presentation of Jesus which also falls on this day, in 2014 anyway. You know, the story of Mary and Joseph presenting the baby Jesus in the temple, which all makes good sense in the context of Luke’s Gospel and should therefore be kept in Year C where it properly belongs rather than celebrated every year…
So why is it important not to miss the Beatitudes as we begin the Year of Matthew’s presentation of the good news? There are many reasons, as you may agree after listening to my discussion of the texts for Sunday.
Simply put, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5
* Set out the basic terms of the disciple’s mission, and thus of our own
* Summarize what they are to teach the world (remember that Great Commission in Matthew 28?)
* Answer the great human question, “How shall we live our lives?”
* Are full of allusions to Isaiah and the Psalms
* Reflect the key interpretive factor in Christian interpretation of Torah
* Share a counter-cultural theme with the other two readings for the day

So there you have a summary of what my 17 minute video has to say about the texts. On the other hand, you might feel obliged to give the baby in the temple story another run: same old, same old…

Howard Pilgrim

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