Small things with great love

In today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel, one of the most famous in the New Testament, Jesus teaches us about the true nature of happiness and holiness.

The qualities which Jesus highlights in the Beatitudes can seem almost too ordinary when compared to the strategies for survival recommended by worldly sources of wisdom. Nevertheless, Jesus reminds us that it is precisely in our poverty of spirit, in our being gentle, merciful, and humble, and in seeing God’s presence in the ordinary, unremarkable and even tragic circumstances of our lives, that we grow in holiness and embody his presence in the world.

In unobtrusive but significant ways, we can bring holiness to our world and so work to bring his kingdom to fruition. Mother Teresa spoke of not necessarily doing “great things, but small things with great love”.

Pope Francis, in “Gaudete et Exsultateoffers us practical suggestions for how we might live out the qualities Jesus describes in the Beatitudes. Here is a brief summary of how he encourages us to strive for holiness in our lives:

Perseverance, Patience and Meekness: Remaining firmly grounded in a God who loves and sustains us, enables us to persist in our efforts to bring about his kingdom on earth.

Joy and a Sense of Humour: We live in the certain joy that we are “infinitely loved”. This gives us “deep security”, a “serene hope” and a sense of humour amidst life’s circumstances.

Boldness and Passion: We are encouraged to be bold: to evangelise and to leave a mark in this world. Jesus promises: “Do not be afraid” (Mk 6:50) for “I am with you always, to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).

Community: We grow in holiness in “a journey in community, side by side with others.” “Each community is called to create a God-enlightened space in which to experience the hidden presence of the risen Lord”.

Constant Prayer:  Our lives are to bedistinguished by a spirit of prayer and a need for communion with God.” In the process, we discern “the paths of holiness to which the Lord is calling us.”

In the Beatitudes, Jesus beckons us to an openness to God: an openness which enables God to enter into even the unlikeliest moments of our lives and to accompany us intimately, allowing ourselves to be surprised and shaped and formed by his grace, his love and his joy.

Sophie Clements

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