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Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Col. 3:1-11 & Lk. 6:20-26.

“There is only Christ: He is everything and He is in everything.” This is how Saint Paul sums up today's first reading. A relationship with Christ is all that matters. Once we make Him the centre of our lives everything else falls into its proper place.

We take on the mind of Christ and in our lives sins of “fornication, impurity, evil passions and especially greed” will not even be entertained. Our old self will be stripped away. We will have done with 'getting angry, being bad-tempered, spitefulness, abusive language and dirty talk, and never telling each other lies.'

Jesus' teachings are full of surprises and contradictions. The things that we often strive for in this life are not the things which will bring us true blessings. We might have thought that the happiest people would be the rich, those who had plenty to eat, those who are having fun, those who are well respected by society. But Jesus turns all these suppositions upside down.

The people He describes as happy are the poor in spirit. They are completely dependent upon God, realising that everything they have comes from Him. Even those who are materially wealthy can be poor in spirit, if they recognise that their ability to make money is a gift from God.

Can the hungry be happy? Here Jesus refers to those who hunger for the true riches in life, such as justice, truth and wisdom. If we are striving for these things, Jesus assures us that we will have them and our hunger will be satisfied.

"Happy are you who weep." Jesus does not want our lives to be full of sadness, but He is asking us to weep for our sins. This involves a constant effort to avoid evil and do good. When we truly repent of our sins we experience the happiness of forgiveness.

How can we be happy when the people around us reject or insult us? Jesus asks us to be ready to suffer unpopularity for His sake. We may be scorned for attending Mass every Sunday. We may be attacked because of our views on abortion, contraception, divorce, gay marriages, fair trade, the arms race and other important issues. We are not going to be rewarded in this life for championing these causes, but Jesus assures us that our reward will be great in Heaven.

The ways of the world can be very persuasive, but Jesus challenges us to try His way.

Holy Spirit, give us the courage to be more and more like Jesus, especially when following Him involves us in conflict and sacrifice, because ultimately it is the only way to real happiness.

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