We hear in the Gospel today the familiar sermon on the mount(Matthew 5.1-12), where Jesus instructs his disciples in the beatitudes. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.” In the same way we come to this liturgy today, we come to Christ in the Eucharist, to remind ourselves that what the world has to offer will never truly satisy us, only God will!
I have found living up here in the north that people really focus on what the weather is or what the temperature is outside, especially during the colder months. This has come to make sense to me as I have found it can make all difference on whether you should go out for a drive somewhere or stay at home feeding wood to the furnace. The thermometer can be a very useful tool in surviving the elements, in knowing what to prepare for and what to do. Really it can help us make decisions that can be a matter of life or death. I would suggest that today, in the beatitudes, Jesus introduces us to the happinessometer; this would be his version of the thermometer for the spiritual life. A way of measuring where our spiritual temperature is at and how to prepare to receive true happiness.
I would like to focus on one of the beatitudes in particular for today. In understanding this particular one, I believe, we can get to the root of what the beatitudes are all about; “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” What do we “hunger and thirst” for? [We can think about it in the course of a day; we hunger and thirst for lots of things, but we’re going to go deeper than that. What do you hunger and thirst for in the deepest part of your life? If you look to your heart, what is the most powerful and abiding desire in you? Jesus teaches here that it must be for righteousness, meaning doing the will of God. We must hunger and thirst for doing God’s will. When you think about it, it’s not my will that matters in the end. It’s no my purposes, my plans, that truly matter, it’s God’s will, it’s righteousness. We will be happy, we will be filled, we will be satisfied, if we hunger and thirst for His will above all. The problem is that we hunger and thirst, with our hearts, for things that aren’t God, that aren’t His divine life, and that is why we are left unsatisfied.]*
So we can see it is really a matter of the heart; the beatitudes are a matter of the transformation of our hearts, seeing things from God’s perspective, and about growing His divine life in us. When we make ourselves available to Him then He begins to live His life in us and transform us; His grace and the power of his cross bring about in us this change, a greater poverty of spirit, detachment from the world, meekness, mercy and love, purity of heart, and peace, then we will experience true satisfaction, true happiness.
This sounds a lot like what Christ offers us in the Eucharist, but I think so often we grow complacent and He becomes someone we receive without knowing the full significance:
In the Eucharist we receive Jesus, in the appearance of a piece of bread, but in it’s substance his very self(body, blood, soul, and divinity). We receive his divine life in us, consumed into us, as Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” (John 6:56.) For Him to effect change in us we must accept this truth by faith; God’s offer of communion in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. And in cooperation with God’s grace our hearts and minds are transformed by this ‘communion’. In turn our faith in Him and our love for Him increase also, but only when we come prepared to receive Him.
In closing, where is your happinessometer at? Cold, maybe red-hot, or perhaps even luke warm. How blessed are we to have this great sacrament, the Eucharist, God coming to us in such a tangible way, wanting to give us his divine life! Are we hungering, are we thirsting, for that divine life, His will above ours? This will tell us exactly where our spiritual temperature is at!
* Excerpted from Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily, Blessed Are We (an excellent listen!)