Blessed Are They Who Hope In The Lord

02-13-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh

In our world today, the normal description of a successful person would exclude undesirables like poverty, dependence of any kind, reliance on anyone other than self, and suffering. The successful person would have to be financially self-reliant, have numerous accomplishments, and be confident in their ability to do or get what they legitimately desire. The contemporary appreciation of success is diametrically opposed to Jesus’ teaching on blessedness. The first reading contrasts the life of the “Blessed” with that of the “Cursed.” The Cursed is defined by his trust in human beings, including self, and seeks strength in the flesh thereby turning his heart away from God. The consequence of his reliance on human counsel strength is that he is spiritually barren.

True peace and happiness elude him. The Blessed, on the other hand, is the one who trusts and hopes in God. While the Cursed is like a bush in a barren desert, the Blessed is described as a tree planted beside the waters- he is Divinely nourished and protected so that he can bear fruit.The Psalm today offers a clearer and more vivid description of the Blessed. He does not seek or follow the counsel of the wicked, nor comply with sinners but rather delights in the precepts of the Lord, meditating on them always. For them, the psalmist concludes, the Lord will ensure prosperity because God watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes. One important thing to note about this particular psalm is that it is the very first psalm in the Bible. Both the first reading and the psalm see the Blessed as one who meditates on Scripture, reads it, ponders it, even memorizes it, and more importantly practices it. This is how the saints lived, and as aspiring saints, we all ought to rediscover our love for God’s law, meditating on it, allowing it to take flesh in our daily living and so become “witnesses” to the Gospel.

This is what Jesus taught His disciples in the Gospel today. Those who experience poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution in this life for the sake of the Kingdom will be blessed with eternal life. On the other hand, those who live lives of wealth, indulgence and popularity without God ought to be very concerned about their eternal salvation because these signs of external happiness often accompanied false prophets and other “fakers” in salvation history. May Jesus’ words affect a sobering experience for those of us privileged to enjoy a measure of external “success.” May we strive to take God’s word seriously, committing ourselves today to reading, meditating on, and ultimately practicing what God has revealed in Holy Scripture.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh