Welcome to Catholic Schools Week. Our One in Christ Communities support three Catholic schools as part of our mission – St. Francis Xavier, St Katharine Drexel, and Cathedral Middle School and High School. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” Our schools have a specific purpose to form students to be good citizens of the world, love God and neighbor and enrich society with the leaven of the gospel and by example of faith. We partner with parents in the faith formation of their children.
As communities of faith, our schools instill in students their destiny to become saints. Academic excellence is the hallmark of Catholic education intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person – mind, body and spirit.
Finally, service is fundamental to Catholic education and the core of Catholic discipleship. Service is intended to help form people who are not only witnesses to Catholic social teaching, but also active participants through social learning.
I invite you to check out our schools. Registration is currently taking place. All are welcome!
Beginning this Sunday and until Lent, our gospel will be taken from the “Sermon on the Mount.” Some background to the gospel of Matthew. Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. As a result, you will notice some similarities with the Hebrew Scriptures. For instance, Jesus is likened to Moses. Moses brought down the ten commandments from Mt. Sinai. Jesus presents the beatitudes from the mount. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to enhance it. In computer lingo, you call ten commandments -- version 1.0 and the beatitudes -- version 2.0. Matthew stresses the Jewish sense of the kingdom of God. This kingdom is not something off in the distance but is to be achieved now. Salvation is harmony with God, being in right relationship. The kingdom of God is being in right relationship with God. Matthew is concerned with what are we doing now. There needs to be a connection between our spiritual lives and our everyday life. This is reflected in the judgment scene of Mathew in chapter 25 where the sheep and goats are separated.
Today’s passage of the beatitudes can be divided into several parts. The first four --- poor, mourning, lowly, hungering for righteousness stress a reversal. The poor person is someone who has lost a reason to hope in this world. Not only are they lacking materially but it seems as if God has abandoned them. The person who is mourning can find no reason for joy. Their life appears to be spinning out of control. The meek person feels tread upon and used, forgotten by others. Those hungering for righteousness feel that God has abandoned the covenant.
These are conditions that should not be. In God’s rule the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungering will find righteousness. The covenant will be fulfilled and they will be in joy.
The next four beatitudes are characteristics and virtues which a disciples are to possess. A disciple is to be merciful. A merciful person brings healing through forgiveness, being present with the hurting. A merciful person strives to rid the world of poverty, hunger, disease, and evil.
A disciple is pure of heart. To be pure of heart is to live an authentic life. One’s spiritual life and everyday life are the same. They are single focused and have a passion for praising and serving God.
A disciple is a peace maker. A peacemaker strives to restore relationships. Shalom – Peace, is being in right relationship with God and others. a peace maker is a reconciler.
A disciple is willing to face persecution for righteousness. Committed to being faithful to the covenant with God, a disciple will not waver because of opposition, even if it means their life is taken.
The beatitudes are both a revelation of Jesus and an invitation to become like him, thus foregoing all the advantages of this world in order to embrace the eternal ethic and experience of God’s reign. When will we take him at his word?