It is good for us, while we are still in the early weeks of the season of Ordinary Time (or, as I like to call it, the “season of real life”) to contemplate and reflect on the Beatitudes, which we hear today from the Gospel of St. Matthew, since of course they are the centerpiece of Jesus’ teaching for us and for all people of all time. If we read them with fresh eyes, listen to them with fresh ears, and receive them with a newly opened mind and heart, we will indeed be better able to live these days of Ordinary Time in an extraordinarily good way. First, it is probably good for us to remember the context in which they were given and to whom they were spoken. The crowd to which Jesus spoke was made up precisely of those who were poor, who were suffering, who were mourning, who were persecuted, who were hungering and thirsting for justice, etc. and He told them that they were blessed for heaven would be theirs. Imagine what His words must have felt like to people who were seen and treated as the outcasts of society and realize that in hearing them we should feel the same way. However, He is not saying that we should strive to be financially poor, or to be in a state of mourning or that we should want to be persecuted. He is saying that if we are wealthy by worldly standards, if we are not hungering for Him, if it does not sadden us if our loved ones are not following Him, and if the world thinks well of us, than we face the ominous peril of being cursed to an eternity without Him because we perceive no need of Him. However, if we recognize our dependence on Him, and not for the things of the world, if we hunger for His justice and mercy, if we mourn for those who do not realize their dependence on the Lord or hunger for His kingdom, and if we stand up for the kingdom in the face of persecution than we are truly blessed. Why? Because if we live as people who are fully aware of our need for Him, of our true poverty, than the kingdom of heaven is indeed ours.