31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 1/11/2020 - Gospel: Mt 5: 1-12a
Transform the presence
On the Feast of all Saints, we celebrate the triumph of holy men and women. God blessed this heavenly body, for they had perfected the law of love with their own lives. Their glorification confirms that they didn't suffer in vain, but their heroic acts were rewarded with heroes' crowns of glory in God's kingdom. Without faith, it is rather hard for the world to see the logic of suffering now, and be happy afterwards. The world honours its citizens after sacrifices; but honours are awarded after death. God has God's way. Jesus called His disciples to follow His way. For following the 'narrow path' with unwavering faith, God will vindicate them.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Jesus himself once said He had no place to lay His head (Mt 8,20). He taught His disciples to learn from Him for He is humble of heart (Mt 11,29). On the cross, Jesus' hunger to save souls. He gave everlasting water to the Samaritan woman when she asked him (Jn 4). Jesus was nailed on the cross for His faithfulness to the Father. For these I believe 'The Sermon on the Mount' is Jesus' own personal reflection of His Passion. The 'Sermon on the Mount' also applies for His disciples. They would not have to suffer exactly as Jesus did, but they would have tasted some forms of sufferings. In God's kingdom, justice is given to those who have not; the pure of heart will see God;  the persecuted in His name will be crowned in glory.

The language of The Beatitudes is for both now and future time. The first and the last verse have verbs in the present tense; and in the rest, verbs are in the future. The kingdom, Jesus proclaims, begins right here on earth, but its culmination will be in heaven. For the world; what Jesus' disciples suffer now is a curse. With the eyes of faith it is blessed, because their suffering will be transformed into everlasting happiness. Everyone in this world knows that the final word for a human life is death. For Jesus' disciples the final word is not death. For Stephen, the very first Christian martyr, his final words were 'Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit' Acts 7,59.  We return to the Father's house. This returning home is possible because Jesus shares His glorious resurrection with His disciples.

Suffering, thirsting and hunger in this world are not testings, but rather are realities of life. For those who accept these realities of life, their lives will be reshaped and transformed. Our physical body quietly changes daily, and so does our spiritual body. Adversities play a big part in the mysterious process transformation. We are not created to evolve, but to return to our original state. We are created to move forward. The Beatitudes shape our way of life. God expects us to walk that way. Jesus has gone before to show us how to get there. The process of getting to where God wants us to be is a challenge. When we fall,  something is broken; when we stand, something is healed; when we move forward, a new thing is born, because God's grace enlightens our mind and heart to move forward, to our original state of life. God's generosity is given abundantly for those who follow Jesus' way and that enables them to move beyond the suffering to reach God.

Before Holy Communion we pronounce that 'Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my soul will be healed'. We do that because God doesn't see us where we are, but comes to be with us, to bless, strengthen and empower us to move forward to be where God wants us to be. Our God delights to bless God's children. Once grace is given, everlasting life is within reach.