Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
The Beatitudes are one of the most recognized passages in the Bible.  And because it seems so familiar often as we hear it we think to ourselves, “Oh yeah, the Beatitudes, I know those, blessed is this and that, yeah” and we kind of tune out the rest.  That’s a shame because these are the essence of Christ’s teaching.  Quite simply they are the key to living a happy life.

If we think back to last week’s Gospel, we saw Jesus invite Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him, become his apostles.  In today’s reading He goes up on the mountain and looks out on his disciples and the great crowd that followed Him and He sees humanity as it is and tells the people how they can be when they meet Jesus.  The Jewish people had waited for centuries for the Messiah, the one who would come and restore them to the glory Yahweh promised.  Jesus proceeds to tell them they don’t have to wait any longer - the Kingdom promised to them, the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now.  And we don’t have to wait for death to experience the Kingdom of Heaven.  We can, and God intended us to, experience the Kingdom of Heaven now - by living the Beatitudes.

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Who's the better person or team and Who's going to win?  These are two questions that are asked, discussed, and are answered on a daily basis in our country and around the world by people who follow sports......and I think you would agree with me that many people do.  With the advent of cable television, now many years ago, we have sporting events being viewed on a daily basis by many. The number of 24/7 sports channels has grown so much, that it's not a question of IF sporting events are on, but rather which one, or usually ones that I'm going to watch over a period of multiple hours and day after day after day.

Such a phenomena and reality I believe leads among other things to a competitive mentality in many, not only with regard to sports, but in other areas of life as well. 

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With the Feast of the Epiphany we have almost reached the end of the Christmas season which concludes tomorrow with the Baptism of the Lord.  The three wise men, after a detour to Jerusalem have finally reached their goal.  How do we know they are men?  If they were women they would have asked for directions right at the start, arrived at Bethlehem on time, brought a casserole, made clothes for the baby, cleaned up the barn and . . . there would be peace on earth!  At least that is what a lady once told me.

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It seems like we are never satisfied with a story, we always want to know more, to get at what is behind the story, the real meaning.  That is why Paul Harvey’s “The rest of the story” was so popular.  Today’s Gospel is an interesting story, a theological explanation to assure early Christians that Jesus was divine, the Son of God, without a human father.  But is that all?  What is “the rest of the story” for us, what is the message for us?

Three thoughts from three different lines in the Gospel:  First, This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about; Second, you are to name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins; Third, they shall name him Emmanuel which means “God is with us.” 

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