Deacon Tony Martucci Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Times

A.M.D.G. 6th Sunday of O.T

As a Christian Community, we try to always see and feel and experience what is
happening in the world and in our own personal life against the background of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. So, we are a people of hope, a people of joy, a people of action. As a Christian Community, we gather together to celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ: that God loves us and wants us for His own. Together, we continuously raise the question, "How do we respond to this Good News? What do we do about it? How do we apply it for our life, make it our own?"

Students of the New Testament know that the teaching is divided into two parts. One is
the "kerygma," which is the announcement of the Good News. The other is the "didache," which is the instruction on what we do about it. Often the language of the New Testament Lessons sounds confusing to us. We hear the "kyrygma" announcement of the Good News that God loves us -- we understand it perfectly. The language is clear. But when we hear the "didache" -- the instruction on how we are to respond -- the message sounds garbled. It has no more meaning for us than baby talk, or babbling. One point at which this is likely to occur is when we hear Jesus' introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. This is part of the "didache," the instruction.

Jesus, assuming that we have heard the announcement of the Good News, is telling us how to apply it for our life, how to make it our own. He is telling us how to become fulfilled, "blessed" persons because of it. Christ begins each Beatitude with the word "blessed." What does it mean? The New Testament Greek word for "blessed" is "makarios." The Greeks called the Island of Cyprus  "Makarios Island" because its climate was so good and the growing conditions were so right that a person could live a fulfilling life there. How blessed you will be, how complete you will be, how whole will you be, how fulfilled you will be, Jesus is saying in the Beatitudes --if you do certain things in a way that can make God's Presence real in your life. You will be a blessed person, Christ says in the first Beatitude, if you are poor. What does that mean? Luke's version of this Beatitude says it directly: "Blessed are you poor; the Reign of God is yours" (Lk. 6:20). But we're fighting poverty these days. We don't want to be poor. Someone has said, "During the course of my life I have been rich and poor, and I can tell you from personal experience that rich is better."

Down deep inside we believe that. The word Jesus uses for poor is a heavy one. It
means absolute, total destitution: utter poverty. That becomes a problem, until we realize that Christ is not telling us to aspire to total, utter destitution. Matthew's version of the Beatitude reads, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt. 5:3). Jesus is saying that everything in life that has any meaning to us is ultimately dependent on God, the Source of life. And the person who is most blessed is the person who recognizes how poor, how empty she or he is apart from God. This instruction, even when it is made clear to us, does not go down easy. We are a proud people. We are proud of our self-reliance, proud to be called "self-made" men and women, proud of our dream of winning at any cost. Therefore, when we
hear Jesus saying that it is necessary for us to admit our poverty, our helplessness, our
emptiness, there is something inside that cries out "No! I am not conditioned that way. I am the master of my fate." But if Christ is to be believed, the only way we can begin to find wholeness of life is to empty ourselves of self-centeredness, egoism and pride and throw ourselves upon the Power and the Love and the Grace of God.

Blessed are the poor ... blessed are the poor in spirit ... blessed are those who acknowledge their dependence on God for their life and their way of life, both; the Reign of God is theirs. We might help ourselves to understand this teaching if we think about an ostrich egg. Ostrich egg symbols are hanging from the ceilings of most of the Christian Churches in the Middle East. The story of the symbolism is that when the mother ostrich lays her egg, she buries it in the sand, and very carefully covers the spot, disguising it so that none of her enemies will be able to find it. The trouble is, the egg is so well hidden that if the mother ostrich takes her eye off the spot, she too will lose it. So she stands staring with absolute, undistracted attention at the spot where she has buried her egg. The life of the baby ostrich depends totally upon her doing this, and nothing short of killing her will force the mother ostrich to look away. Thus, the ostrich egg symbol is placed in the Churches in order to remind the worshippers why they are there. They are there to look at God with absolute, undistracted, undivided attention. Nothing Is to cause them to look away from God. Jesus will not let us use    anyone or anything as an excuse for taking our eye off God. Jesus will not let us use our spouse or our children as an excuse. Jesus will not let us use our career or our job as an excuse. Jesus will not let us use our longing for passing pleasure as an excuse. Jesus will not let us use our ambition for security as an excuse. Poverty of spirit is to will one thing. Just as that mother ostrich looks at the place where she buried her egg so we will look at God and nothing will pull usaway.

And the Reign of God will be ours! The Kingdom of Heaven is ours! That is Christ's  clear, unadulterated message. And if it still sounds strange to you, if you are still hearing it as so much "baby talk, or babbling," there is something in your life that is pulling you away from the Lord God Almighty.



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