Digicast Negros


We ask for blessing for ourselves, our homes, our vehicles, our religious articles and practically for everything. We ask it from our priests and parents. We train our children to kiss the hand of their elders in a gesture of asking for blessing. (Thank God, the restrictive protocol of Covid-19 did not succeed in eradicating this godly and typically Filipino custom.)

Today’s gospel tells us that as Jesus went up the mountain, he “saw the crowds” in a way that others did not. He saw the poor, the mournful, the meek, the persecuted… as blessed. Great must have been the astonishment of the listeners when they heard Jesus proclaiming blessed those whom the world consider more cursed than blessed. Jesus’ blessing makes all people the same, for all are blessed by God. The truth is that if we eagerly seek God’s blessing, God is even more eager to bless us.

The eight beatitudes of Jesus are certainly consoling and inspiring, but they also leave us perplexed. How can one feel blessed when he is penniless, grieving or despised? What makes a poor man blessed? How do we make sense of the beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus?

We understand the beatitudes in the context of the kingdom of God. When Jesus announced the kingdom of God, he also preached repentance. Repentance or metanoia is not only turning away from our sins and past ways, but also turning towards God. Thus, we read in last Sunday’s gospel that upon the Lord’s invitation, the four apostles did not only leave their nets and boats behind, but subsequently turned to Jesus and followed him. The kingdom of God is about conversion and discipleship,

I often explain the kingdom of God by saying that it is not some place up there. The kingdom of God is where God is king, where he rules, where he commands, where his will is accomplished. Thus, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” The kingdom of God comes when we seek and follow his will, not ours. It means submission and surrender to God, a most difficult thing to do, since we want to be in charge of our own life. Control, in fact, is the last thing we let go of.

But it is precisely in surrendering to God that we are truly blessed, for it is in his hands that we are most secure. It is only when we empty ourselves that God can fill us with his blessings and, most of all, with Himself – our Supreme Blessing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33)

Beatitude means happiness, which is what every human heart desires. Philosophers tell us that happiness is the ultimate end of man. The beatitude proclaimed by Jesus in his sermon on the mount is the happiness that is born of the kingdom. It is the happiness of one who surrenders himself to God and knows that he rests in God’s heart. It is the happiness that no one can snatch away and can endure every pain, poverty, and persecution. ”What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?… I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor powers… can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (1 Cor 8:35-39)

Two weeks ago, I had the fortune to visit the tomb of the Venerable (soon-to-be saint) Teofilo Camomot. His life never fails to inspire those who come to know him or read his life. He never lost his serenity and joy despite all that he went through in life. Born poor, he lived poor and died with only 2 pesos and 17 centavos in his pocket. Bullied since he was a child, he suffered from misunderstandings and persecution, even as a bishop. Driven by a deep hunger for holiness, he was singleminded in doing everything for the love of God. Truly, Bp. Camomot was a personification of the beatitudes.

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