Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 06/03/2000 info:
The Beatitudes

In this gorgeous morning of the Beatitudes no cloud covered the sky of Galilee. The spring of the Kingdom was bursting out. The Gospel, the Good News, is summarized in all its freshness in the Beatitudes. Yesterday, crowds surrounded Jesus because they were hungry for bread and for other things. Today thousands of young people surround the Pope, the successor of Peter, because they want to hear from him words of life. They are hungry for the word of God. Those youngsters know that drugs, sex and money cannot fill the hearts of men created in the image of God. The heart of man is created for love.

The Beatitudes that the Pope is going to proclaim again sing the absolute free gift of the Kingdom of God. They proclaim a great happiness promised to mankind. They invite to messianic joy totally changing the values that are normally accepted in society. A great event happened on the part of God. Freely, generously God came towards mankind to indicate them the way that leads to joy.

Recently the Nouvel Observateur published a special issue whose title was: "Happiness: how to experience it". The joy that Jesus is offering has a different taste. The poor, the hungry of the earth are proclamed happy. They are happy, not because of their poverty, but because they do not possess anything they can give back. So they can accept the event which happened. The poor and the hungry are the first to be invited to share in the messianic joy because their election shows the gratuity of the gift of God. You can not buy the Kingdom, for the Kingdom is a free gift.

It is not man who came close to God. It is God who comes close to men. Jesus does not wait that men should come to him. He goes out, like the sower, to sow the word of God and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Not like the scribes or the experts in Jewish Law, Jesus starts from his personal experience. He knows what he is speaking about. His words have an original freshness. He lives the closeness of the Kingdom in his special relationship to the Father.

Israel continues to pray in the Qaddish: may he make his Kingdom reign in our days, during the life of the House of Israel. Preaching the Kingdom Jesus is part of Jewish tradition. He accepts its dynamism and announces a hope which wants to be put on in the hearts of the people. When he preaches the joy to the poor and the hungry, Jesus is in the right tradition of the prophets who associated the coming of the Kingdom with this joy.

One remembers the sentence of Loisy: Jesus preached the Kingdom and the Church came. The Church is not the Kingdom fully realized. She lives the "yet" and the "not yet". The Church knows that many of her sons are sinners though she is holy. The Pope speaks constantly of the purification of memories, individual and collective memories.

In the Synagogue of Nazareth Jesus was invited one Sabbath to read the Scriptures. They gave him the scroll of prophet Isaiah. He read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He anointed me and send me to bring the good news to the poor". Jesus wanted to be the Messiah of the poor, humble and humiliated people. Rich people generally do not accept his message. The coming of the Kingdom is a proclamation of a future of liberty and dignity. The Kingdom does not accept any form of slavery or degradation of humankind. Even more, the Kingdom is linked to the person of Jesus. It is impossible to accept it unless you accept Jesus.

Jesus is not the Messiah, because he didn’t bring peace. The Messiah must bring peace. Yet we do not have peace. You can hear this kind of objection very often in Jerusalem. The objection is an old one. Jerome in Bethlehem witnessed that the Jews of his time continually repeated it. Jerome answered: Peace is not an ideology. Peace is a person. In the Old Testament Gedeon built an altar and called it "Yahve-Shalom". In the New Testament Jesus is called "our Peace". As long as you do not accept Jesus, added the exegete of Bethlehem, you shall not know real peace.

"Men and women of deep faith, be witnesses to hope. Be heralds of joy. Be true workers of justice" (John Paul II).

Frédéric Manns

Created / Updated Monday, March 06, 2000 at 12:12:40