6th Sunday of the Year ( C ) 2019
If you wanted to reduce Jesus teaching to a few words, look to the Beatitudes. Everything Christ wanted to say to us is contained in these few lines. When you begin to read them they seem innocent and easy enough. The first one is ‘Happy are you poor; yours is the Kingdom of God’. Not too threatening, not too challenging. The next is similar: ‘Happy are you who are hungry now; you shall be satisfied.’ But then they become more challenging, to say the least: ‘Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man.” Not so easy. But there are people today, Christians, who live according to the Beatitudes, and they are special people, they are Saints.
One such person is our Carmelite Bishop in Nicaragua. As you may or may not know hundreds of people have been killed in that catholic country because the government feels threatened by those who seek justice and peace. Our Bishop Silvio is one of those people. As a result of his stand, his refusal to be silenced by the threats to his life, he has been officially declared an enemy of the State. He knows that he could be murdered any time by someone who believes he or she is doing the right thing.
Five days ago was the anniversary of the murder of Sr Dorothy Stang, a Notre Dame nun from Ohio, who gave her life for the poor. She died in a remote part of Brazil trying to protect the rainforests from unscrupulous businessmen who had no concern for the environment. The rainforests, as you know, are the lungs of the earth. Sr Dorothy refused to be silenced even when she was put on a death list; she knew her life was in danger. When the two killers approached her they asked if she was armed. She didn’t run away, but immediately opened her bible and began to read the beatitudes, including the words, “Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man”. She was a brave woman who like our Bishop Silvio in Nicaragua, put her trust in the Lord.
We will probably not have to give our lives like Sr Dorothy, but we are called to follow the Beatitudes; to trust in God, to follow his ways. If we are people of faith then we can. We will be like that tree Jeremiah refers to in the first reading; ‘A blessing on the man or woman who puts their trust in the Lord… They are like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream; when the heat comes it feels no alarm… and never ceases to bear fruit’. The psalmist drives home this point when he says; “Happy the person who has placed their trust in the Lord”.
When you trust in God He can do amazing things in you and through you. Sometimes people are amazed at how they have come through a trial. How they have coped with the loss of a spouse. Some people will say to them, “I could never do what you did”. But they could. We all could. When youput your trust int eh Lord He helps you to cope. No matter what the trial God will give you all the help you need to succeed.
If you trust in God, then it will be His strength working in your and through you. Sr Dorothy wasn’t a superwoman. Bishop Silvio isn’t a superman. They are like us; they are frightened. But they don’t give in to their fear; they put their trust in God and it is He who gives them the courage to carry on. All we have to do is to become more and more people of faith.