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To Act, To Love, To Walk ...

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 106(105):47 — “Save us, O Lord our God! And gather us from the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name, and make it our glory to praise You.”

First Reading: Zep 2:3; 3:12-13 — “I will leave in you midst a people humble and lowly.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10 — “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!”

Second Reading: 1 Cor 1:26-31 — “God chose the weak of the world.”

Alleluia: Mt 5:12a — Alleluia, alleluia. “Rejoice and be glad; your reward will be great in heaven.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a — “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 31(30):17-18 — “Let Your face shine on Your servant. Save me in Your merciful love. O Lord, let me never be put to shame, for I call on You.”

The Prophet Micah proclaims what is expected by God: “To act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God!” Remember some of the great members of the Church who have followed that call. The apostles and early Christian martyrs lived that call at the cost of their lives. Saint Francis of Assisi respected all of creation and all of life and encouraged his brothers to always identify with the poor and those in the minority. Saint Vincent de Paul once said, “The poor will never forgive you the bread you give them!” Saint Martin de Porres, a Dominican brother, chose to live a very humble life and to serve the least of his sisters and brothers. Saint Damian of Molokai identified with lepers and served their needs. Thanks be to God that we continue to have great witnesses in our own time.

Servant of God Dorothy Day identified with the street people and offered a place to them, founding the Catholic Worker House in New York. Dorothy had a note above her kitchen sink that read, “We must always remember that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but rather against the system.” Sister Dorothy Stang, a Notre Dame de Namur sister from Reading, Ohio, served the poor farmers in the Amazon rain forest and identified with their struggle to preserve their homes and farms against the wealthy loggers. When hired thugs stopped her at gunpoint, she read to them from the very Beatitudes which we heard in today’s Gospel as they shot and killed her. Think for a moment of the members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and other people in Glassboro, Vineland, and Camden who have founded soup kitchens, shelters for the homeless, and programs like Habitat for Humanity. Think also of those who visit with those dying of HIV/AIDS. We continue to have many witnesses to acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with God.

Someone once summarized the Beatitudes by saying: “How blessedt are those who know they need God!” Jesus, who was meek and humble of heart, came among us not to be served, but to serve. In the first reading, the Prophet Zephaniah encourages us to “Seek the Lord,” and tells us to do that by seeking justice and seeking humility. Our true humility is based on the fact that we are totally reliant on God’s gracious gifts. Thus Saint Paul writes, “Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord.”

Justice, mercy and humility are emphasized throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Beatitudes offer hope to those who have so little to hope for. They challenge us to know that things can be different than they presently are and that we can make a difference. We live in communion with God who ultimately will fulfill the promise of the Beatitudes. Spend some time today and this week considering how you might be able offer some of your talents and your expertise.

Lift up the poor in spirit whose only hope is in God. Be the good news of God’s love to them.

Join a bereavement committee or find another way to comfort those who mourn. Encourage patience and be a faithful minister to the healing process.

Try not to be a control freak. The meek do not need to be always in control. Leave things in God’s hands and boast in the Lord.

Hunger and thirst for righteousness! Be a voice for those who have no voice. Protest injustice wherever it occurs. Know that seeking justice is a lifetime commitment and your lifetime can make some difference.

Be merciful for God is merciful.

Soren Kierkegaard wrote that “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” What should that one thing be? Well how about this: Seek God’s will in everything that you do!

There is so much hatred, disrespect and discrimination in our nation today. Think of ways to bring about peace in our community for all those who suffer from these forms of interpersonal violence.

When you are willing to stand alone for what you know in your heart is right, you willingly risk persecution, and then you will also discover who your true friends are.

We can only live the Beatitudes in communion with JesusChrist. Today, at this Mass, we have come together to celebrate our communion with Him. Lift up your hearts! Act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God!

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