We have in the world different kinds of people, and each one has an attitude. What is attitude? Any idea?
A behavior or way or a pattern. It can be positive attitude or negative attitude. But it is your behavior. And so in the world when we live, there is a behavioral pattern that we have. Because we are living in the world, it is modeled on the world.
And so what the world thinks, we want to think. A little bit of religion is there to help us. But what the world thinks, I need to think because I'm living in this world. If I have to live in this world, the have to follow all these things. So we model our behavior on that. Because we believe in that.
But today's reading says that there is another attitude which we have to keep - Modeled on the heavenly man Jesus Christ - Modeled on the pattern that God had shown right from the Old Testament Moses, Abraham down to Jesus Christ and through the Church, through the Apostles and the Early Church that lived based on this model.
So we have no excuse to say, oh, that was for that time and now it cannot be. So there is an attitude that is right or wrong. There is an attitude that you have to be, you have to be, and that is called Beatitude. The gospel that we heard today, Matthew, it begins from chapter five, says eight beatitudes, eight ways or eight guidelines of the attitude that Christians should have.
In another way the blessedness. So if we have this attitude, you are blessed. And man is blessed if he has that attitude, which is the attitude that God has opened his mouth and told us to be. Only then that beatitude will be ours and we will be with that attitude. That is why it is called beatitude. Matthew was clear - Jesus saw large crowd, he saw his disciples, then he spoke to his disciples, he opened his mouth and he spoke. When Lord opens his mouth, we have to listen.
And what does he say? The eight ways of a Christian behavior, the behavioral pattern of a Christian. Why this way we have to live? Because we will inherit not only the earth but we will also inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Zephaniah, one of the minor prophets says, seek integrity, seek humility peoples of the earth. Seek the Lord, seek integrity, seek humility for who knows, when the anger of the Lord blaze out against us, we may find shelter. "Us" means the world because the world is going to be judged. There is judgment. Today we may not need anything. May be on that day if we are humble, we are meek, we are a people of integrity, then we may find shelter on the day of "judgment." The book of Revelation says wait, there is a time for judgment, there is a time for the reaping. Wait, because now it will so happen that you will put the sickle and you will reap the darnel which appears like the wheat. By their fruits you will know.
So what fruits will save us? What fruits, if we have, we'll inherit the kingdom of heaven. Gospel of Matthew is very clear, the BEATITUDES. So an attitude is a pattern of behavior and Christian behavior is reflective of the behavior of Christ. Saint Paul will say, "in your mind be like Christ" "though he was God, he humbled himself. In the letter to the Philippians he will say the "kenosis" that Jesus Christ maintained to become little. He was God, but he came down and he became humbler yet even to accept the death on the cross.
Though he was God, he humbled himself and that's why God raised him up. So he raised him up and give him a name which is beyond. Jesus Christ himself says, as God has conferred a kingdom on me, I will confer a kingdom on you. You will sit with me on the throne to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
What a privilege for a Christian who follows Christ in humility and in truth? So the behavior of Christ is what he learned from his Father. I have told what I have learned from my father, I have not said anything new. I have not said anything on my own accord. I have told you, revealed you what I have learned from my father.
But when Christ opens his mouth and speaks to us, we say that is not possible now, father. I think that was for that time. So we water down the word of God. Why because we are cowards to live what we have been taught by Jesus Christ.
And if he says blessed, are you when people call you all sorts of names, falsely that also. Justly, rightly if they call, then we deserve it.
But we have done nothing. We have lived in integrity; we have lived in humility before the Lord. You have done your work humbly. You have done simply what the master says. Well then, your reward will be great when the judgment comes. Otherwise, we are namesake Christians. We don't have that spirit. We don't have that humility; we don't have that integrity.
So humility is the opposite of pride and such proud man will not inherit the earth or escape the wrath of God.
There are proud people who consider themselves, as they know all. But when you tell them some things of the spirit of God, it does not touch them. Because it does not fit in their heads.
Go sell all your possessions is what Jesus told the rich young man and follow me. But it does not fit into our head that I can sell everything and I have to be on the road and I have to, ... ... ... I have come across such, you know, what do you mean? In 2023, you expect me to be like that? This is what we may be thinking also. These people are wise in the worldly sense or in the worldly wisdom. That is why Saint Paul says, these people will never inherit the kingdom of God.
But you God has told, consider when you are called, how many of you were wise? How many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the world. Because the whole world thought that he is good for nothing, she's good for nothing, what she knows, what he knows and all that. You were simple like that, you know? We preach at least what God has revealed to us. Revealed, may not be in the same sense as Saint Paul or Revelation. But through our daily experience and through the light of the meditating the world of God.
And we preach. But there are and there will be people who question. Because they questioned Saint Paul. They laughed at him. Why? He was preaching the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They laughed at him. Rising from the death? Go tell your aunty, we will listen the other day.
And they think they are wiser than the gospel. How can you understand? So Saint Paul says, think of you consider yourself. Take yourself brothers when you were called how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the world. How many were influential people?
It was to shame the wise God chose what is foolish in the men's sight. My friend considers me foolish for leaving Mumbai and come here. My friend would consider me foolish that having left a job, well paid job at that time. You are foolish to leave the job, business and preach the gospel. They still laugh at me, whenever they meet me. But that's their wisdom. Because job, shop, lucrative business, a city that can pay you and which can make you, you have left that and staying in a village here, in a forest.
What you doing here, man? While coming all the way we saw monkeys and buffalos. So this is the kind of attitude they have towards the ministry that God uses us. I am not wise. They are wise. That is why they are telling all the wise things. But then God must be foolish. Or God must be ultra-wise than them to see something in me.
That is what Saint Paul says.
Because he says, I studied after the best university Gamaliel the best, of everything I had, I was the, follower of the law, I was the commander of, contingent and all that. And I was contingent to destroy the Christians. But on the way I met Jesus Christ and He reveal himself to me. And that day my life changed. And I consider how foolish I was to think that all that would give me what I should be the status in front of God.
I consider it garbage now.
See this is how God chosen us. To shame the wisdom of the world, God choose what is foolish in the men's eye so that He can show of the world how wrong they are. They did wise thing by killing him. To save the nation one man must die and that man had to be Jesus Christ. The nation will be saved, but how foolish. So in the plan of God. So we also, that is humility.
That is humility. You know yourself is the first step towards humility. If we don't know ourselves, we go on criticizing others, judging others. But even then, that happens also as Matthew says when they speak all kinds of things against you falsely on my account, Rejoice... Dance. Imagine, you have to Dance also.
Remember David. Michal considered him stupid dancing naked in front of the Ark of the Covenant. He says for my God. What is it to you? But she considered something stupid, but he considered it is privilege for God.
So this is how the wisdom of the world works. This is how the wisdom of the spirit works. Now, which wisdom is guiding us? The wisdom of the Spirit? The wisdom of God? Then reach out to known or unknown, acknowledged or unacknowledged, we are happy. Why because we know in whom we placed our trust!
Fr. Benjamin D’Souza
January 29, 2023