Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel presents the very well known passage of the Beatitudes; I would like to reflect briefly in on one of these: Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted[1].

That always seemed to me to be a strange blessing. You know, when I hear this, I sometimes think of people in a funeral home crying at the death of a loved one. Is the Lord saying that a person is blessed because the person is in grief? That cannot be possible. God isn't happy when we have pain, at least, not my God. Maybe we are being encouraged to share in the grief of others, not to let people be alone in their grief. Perhaps. Certainly the Lord blesses people who leave the comfort of their lives to be exposed to other people's pain.
But this beatitude is a lot deeper than that. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because God's chosen people refused to recognize the presence of the Messiah. He wept over Jerusalem because the people there were more concerned with their possessions and their lives than with the presence of God among them. He wept over Jerusalem because the people thought they were self sufficient. He wept over Jerusalem because he could see the destruction their own actions were bringing on themselves.

Blessed are those who weep, they shall be comforted. This is the reason why the Church has an active role in encouraging morality in our nation. When we see that our public policy is immoral, we weep over the destruction our actions are bringing upon ourselves. The Church stands for morality because it weeps over what the country is doing to itself. So to the many people, both within and outside of the Church, who ask, "Why does the Church make a statement which has to do with the laws of our country?" We have to answer, "We do this because we love our country and we weep over what our country is doing to itself[2].

The separation of Church and State has nothing to do with the need of the Founding Fathers and the country to seek God's guidance for the nation.

Therefore, when the bishops make a statement[3] the intent of the Church is to direct the country in ways of morality. We can't be blindly optimistic, and refuse to see evil among us or do anything about evil among us. Therefore, blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

And there is another problem here. We have only one life, not two lives. We are Catholic, Christian citizens. We are not Catholic here and citizens there. We have heard the Church saying that what takes place in our Sunday worship must be reflected in our daily lives. If we are going to speak to each other about the Love of God in church Sunday, then we need to be living the love of God in the way we treat other people during the week. The problem is that some people act as though they are two different people, saying one thing in Church and acting in a completely opposite way in public. That is hypocrisy.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because he could see the destruction the actions of the people were bringing on themselves. We, in the Church, weep for our country over those areas that are leading the country to moral decay. Therefore, we speak out. So blessed are those who mourn, for we shall be comforted


[1] Sunday 30th January, 2011, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13. Happy the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs! Ps 145(146):7-10. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. Matthew 5:1-12.
[2] Some will inevitably go on to say, "Church belongs in Church and State in State and the two should remain separate." I'm sure you have been faced with that statement. First of all, to get historical regarding the United States, the separation of Church and State was put into the American Constitution to protect various religions from interference by the country. There would be no one state religion in the United States. Nor would certain faiths be excluded because they had not been recognized by the American constitution. The government would not pick leaders of the various denominations. Nor would it force people to attend Church services. Without demanding adherence to a particular religion, the founding fathers recognized the need for God's guidance in the country and put the words "In God We Trust" on our coins.  I believe it was in our own century that the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance.  
[3] , such as the document on nuclear war, the document on poverty and justice, the statements on fair labor practices, the statements on family values, or in speaking out about abortion.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris