Daily Devotional April 23 – 29
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.[e]
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
For you have received your consolation.
25 Woe to you who are full,
For you shall hunger.
Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe [f]to you when [g]all men speak well of you,
For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Prayer: O Lord, our God, in Thy goodness and love for men forgive me all the sins I have committed today in word, deed or thought. Grant me peaceful and undisturbed sleep. Send Thy Guardian Angel to guard and protect me from all evil. For Thou art the guardian of our souls and bodies, and to Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
*(Evening Prayer and Confession of Sins)
*Commentary from the Navarre Bible on the Beatitudes/’blessed are’
Some Christians may find it difficult to grasp the need of practising the moral teaching of the Gospel so radically, in particular Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is very demanding in what he says: but he is saying it to everyone, and not just to his Apostles or to those disciples who followed him closely: we are told expressly that “when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching” (Mt 7:28). It is quite clear that the Master calls everyone to holiness, making no distinction of state-in-life, race or personal circumstances.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is not proposing an unattainable ideal, useful though that might be to make us feel humble in the light of our inability to reach it. No. Christian teaching in this regard is quite clear: what Christ commands, he commands in order to have us do what he says. Along with his commandment comes grace to enable us to fulfil it. Therefore, every Christian is capable of practising the moral teaching of Christ and of attaining the full height of his calling, that is, holiness, not by his own efforts alone but by means of the grace which Christ has won for us, and with the abiding help of the means of sanctification which he left to his Church.
Prayer: O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.
24-26 Our Lord here condemns four things: avarice and attachment to the things of the world; excessive care of the body, gluttony; empty-headed joy and the seeking of self-satisfaction in everything; flattery, and disordered desire for human glory: four very common vices which a Christian needs to be on guard against.
24 In the same kind of way as in v. 20, which refers to the poor in the sense of those who love poverty, seeking to please God better, so in this verse the ‘‘rich” are to he understood as those who strive to accumulate possessions heedless of whether or riot the)’ are doing so lawfully, and who seek their happiness in those possessions, as if they were their ultimate goal. But people who inherit wealth or acquire it through honest work can be really poor provided they are detached from these things and are led by that detachment to use them to help others, as God inspires them. We can find in Sacred Scripture a number of people to whom the beatitude of the poor can be applied although they possess considerable wealth — Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Job, for example.
Prayer: Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me, Water from Christ’s side, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me, O good Jesus, hear me, Within Thy wounds hide me, Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, From the malicious enemy defend me, In the hour of my death call me, And bid me come unto Thee, That I may praise Thee with Thy saints, and with Thy angels, Forever and ever, Amen.
To sum up: poverty does not consist in something purely external, in having or not having material goods, but in something that goes far deeper, affecting a person’s heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude to God, in being devout, in having total faith. If a Christian has these virtues and also has an abundance of material possessions, he should be detached from his wealth and act charitably towards others and thus be pleasing to God. On the other hand, if someone is not well-off he is not justified in God’s sight on that account, if he fails to strive to acquire those virtues in which true poverty consists.
Following the example of God our Father, we must desire for everyone (even those who say they are our enemies) eternal life, in the first place; additionally, a Christian has a duty to respect and understand everyone without exception, because of his or her intrinsic dignity as a human person, made in the image and likeness of the Creator.
Prayer: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Our Lord gives us more examples to show us how we should act if we want to imitate the mercy of God. The first has to do with one of what are traditionally called the “spiritual works of mercy” — forgiving injuries and being patient with other peoples’ defects. This is what he means in the first instance about turning the other cheek.
To understand what our Lord is saying here, St Thomas comments, that “Sacred Scripture needs to be understood in the light of the example of Christ and the saints. Christ did not offer the other cheek to be stuck in the house of Annas (Jn 18:220, nor did St Paul when, as we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, he was beaten in Philippi (Acts 16:220. Therefore, we should not take it that Christ literally meant that you should offer the other cheek to someone to hit you; what he was referring to was your interior disposition; that is, if necessary we should be ready not to be intolerant of anyone who hurts us: and we should be ready to put up with this kind of treatment, or worse than that. That was how the Lord acted when he surrendered his body to death” (Commentary on St John, 18, 37).
Prayer: Christ is Risen indeed He is risen!
We read in Sacred Scripture of the generosity of the widow of Zarephath, whom God asked to give food to Elijah the prophet even though she had very little left; he then rewarded her generosity by constantly renewing her supply of meal and oil (1 Kings 17:9ff). The same sort of thing happened when the boy supplied the five loaves and two fish which our Lord multiplied to feed a huge crowd of people (cf. Jn 6:9) — a vivid example of what God does when we give him whatever we have, even if it does not amount to much.
God does not let himself be outdone in generosity… However much we give God in this life, he will give us more in life eternal.
Prayer: Christ is Risen from the dead trampling down death by death and on those in the tombs bestowing life.
To distinguish the good tree from the bad tree we need to look at the fruit the tree produces (deeds) and not at its foliage (words). “For there is no lack of people here on earth who, on being approached, turn out to be nothing but large, shiny, glossy leaves. Foliage, just foliage and nothing more. Meanwhile, many souls are looking at us hoping to satisfy their hunger, which is a hunger for God. We must not forget that we have all the resources we need. We have sufficient doctrine and the grace of God, in spite of our wretchedness” (J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 51).
46 Jesus asks us to act in a way consistent with being Christians and not to make any separation between the faith we profess and the way we live: “What matters is not whether or not we wear a religious habit; it is whether we try to practise the virtues and surrender our will to God and order our lives as His Majesty ordains, and not want to do our will but his” (St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, II, 6).
Prayer: Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Attend to the voice of my prayer, when I cry unto Thee. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Hearken unto me, O Lord.
*Psalm 140 (141)