By Fr. Simione Volavola, MSC (St. John the Baptist Parish-Ottosville, PA)
Dear brothers and sisters,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. (Luke 6:20)
Last Sunday, we were led by our Lord to experience our own place in His presence. It is a lowly state, a sinful state, a state that, in the sight of His own holiness and majesty, is truly pitiable and sad. Isaiah, Paul and Peter had nothing they could boast about. They could only be sorrowful for their own sinfulness.
It is different when one is brought to one’s own true measure by God than when one is by another human being. When God reveals the state of our souls to us, He makes us see it with the eyes that He sees us with. They are the eyes of love, of compassion, of forgiveness, of healing and hope.
When human beings speak of our sins, they do so with their own fallen eyes that are unforgiving, damning. They are in need of saving themselves and having not experienced the grace of being forgiven by God, they judge only with the eyes that know not forgiveness.
Today, this teaching is confirmed and deepened. The disciples of Christ who gather around Him in today’s gospel are those who, like Peter and James and John in last weeks gospel, have experienced God’s forgiving gaze in their own sinful lives.
Through Jesus, they have seen God’s holiness and majesty most expressed in His own merciful love towards them who are so imprisoned in their own sinfulness, sad in their own poverty, astray in their own blindness and oppressed by their foes. They have begun to experience the jubilee year of God’s forgiveness of their debts to Him. Remember His first homily in Nazareth? (Luke 4:18-19)
These are the disciples to whom Jesus addresses the beatitudes. The disciples are joined by a multitude of people who have come in from everywhere but it is to His disciples that He addresses the beatitudes.
Peter, James, John, Isaiah, Paul and all those disciples who have known the forgiving love with which God judges them have seen their own state of poverty, of hunger, of weeping, of being hated, excluded, insulted, denounced as evil on account of the Son of Man.
Jesus, the Son of Man reveals their state to them but with the forgiving eyes of the Father who responds to their poverty with the fullness of His kingdom, to their hunger with the satisfaction of food from heaven, to their weeping with the joy of forgiveness, to their being betrayed with the faithful love of the Father who never betrays His betraying children.
This is how our Lord evangelizes sinners. This is how He converts them. His love, which is the Holy Spirit, is the eyes with which He sees us, forgives us, purifies us and sends us to love others with the same Spirit.
Without the Spirit of the Son of Man revealing us to ourselves with the light of our merciful Father face, we remain in our own sinful state judging and condemning one another with the eyes that cannot forgive.
When we cannot forgive, then we remain in our woeful state of making futile attempts at saving ourselves from our own poverty, hunger, sadness and being acceptable to others. We champion and reward our own independence and self-righteous achievements only to further tighten the chains of sin and death.
Lord have mercy on us. Let your face shine on us and we shall be saved