HOMILY WEEK 10 01 – Year II

The Beatitudes – Keys to the Kingdom

(1 Kg 17:1-6; Ps 121; Mt 5:1-12)


Many years ago, Marge Denis produced a slide series in the NWT entitled The Beatitude People.

That is what we are called to be by Jesus – a Beatitude People – a people who live the Beatitudes as a way of life.

Mark Pizantewatc of the Returning to Spirit program speaks of our Way of Being. This way of being tends to be the same as our attitudes. An attitude is our habitual way of thinking, feeling and acting in the world.

During a training session of that program, one participant was struggling to find her Way of Being, so Mark asked if he could help. When she nodded, Mark suggested “Drama Queen.” While she immediately took offense and reacted negatively to that suggest, the rest of the class burst out laughing because that was exactly how they saw her – drama queen. Everything about her had to be dramatic, only she did not see it. Now that it had been named and affirmed by others, she was able to settle down and start to deal with that new self-awareness.

In today’s gospel, Jesus goes up a mountain, signaling a theophany, an encounter with God was about to ensue. Then the disciples came to him – a serious important teaching was about to be offered. What we are given is perhaps a compilation of the most essential teachings of Jesus – ways of being, ways of living his values in our world. Yet they are not that prominent in some of the church teachings over the centuries – it is like we have found them too challenging, or perhaps too inconvenient. It is good to focus our attention on them now.

There are three keys to the kingdom within the beatitudes: poverty of spirit (theirs is the kingdom of heaven); the persecuted (theirs is the kingdom of heaven) and we could add those showing mercy (because those who can forgive and accept hurt without bitterness or resentment are just like Jesus on the cross, and when they act like God they get to feel like God, and so are already in the kingdom of heaven!)

We could reverse the beatitudes, to help us catch their fuller meaning:

Unhappy are those full of false-pride, they will never experience the kingdom. Unhappy are the arrogant and abusive, they will never feel at home on earth.

Unhappy those who are stuck in grief, who cannot let go of their losses or feel the pain of others – their hearts are hard. Unhappy those who are corrupt, unjust, whose ways are unfair – they will always be empty inside. Unhappy are those who refuse to forgive, who nurse anger and resentment – their hearts will grow bitter. Unhappy those caught up in lust, impurity and pornography – they will never be at peace with themselves.

Unhappy are the troublemakers, who always stir up conflict – their lives will always be chaotic. And unhappy are those who have sold out to the values of this world, who do not stand against anything – they will fall for everything.

Someone who truly personified the spirit of the beatitudes was Mary Jacobson, a widowed elder and mother of three sons who lived in Île-à-la-Crosse. Crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and barely able to hobble around her small suite, she nevertheless was cheerful and full of life. She would delight in visits by a pastoral minister, pull out her Cree hymnbook, light some candles, and receive communion with great faith and reverence. She would then thoroughly enjoy a short visit, laughing and chuckling over revered memories of times past. Her great concern was to pray all three of her sons into sobriety, which she did. One eventually became the director of the rehabilitation centre in the community at that time. For Mary, every day was an opportunity to be a beatitude person. She was truly a beacon of light and a source of joy to all who knew her.

The Eucharist is an experience of the unconditional love of the one who gave us the beatitudes and fully lived them. May our celebration today empower us all to be, and live as, beatitude persons.


Updated: June 10, 2024 — 1:18 am

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