From the Pastor's Desk
 
BLESSED are the _______
 
How conscious are we that everything depends on God? Are we truly aware that our very existence depends on God? God is the source of all life and all that is good! Notice the close similarity of those two words God and good.
Centuries before Jesus, Zephaniah urged the people of Judah to seek humility. Zephaniah lived during a difficult time for the Jewish people. Israel had already fallen to the Assyrians and the people had begrudgingly submitted to their control. In an effort to hold off conquest and avoid destruction, Manasseh the king pledged loyalty to pagan gods, abandoning their covenant with God. Out of fear, many of the people did the same. At an important temple liturgy, Zephaniah courageously stood up and spoke to the people and proclaimed his faith in God. He condemned those who had abandoned the faith, starting with the leaders, and he prophesied that a day would come when the Lord would destroy what was left of their nation. However, he assured them that a faithful remnant of the people would remain — that is, those who stayed faithful, the ones who sought justice and lived humbly before the Lord.
 
Throughout history (and indeed, even today) people and their leaders have fallen away from the ideals of God’s covenant with us. We depend on our own wits and strength for self-preservation, out of fear, anger, sin or hate. It happened in Zephaniah’s day under Assyrian influence. It happened in Jesus’ time under Roman domination. It can happen in our own time.
 
Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes, urging us to place our trust in God, not in our own power. Our Christian journey must go beyond the Ten Commandments, guided rather by the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes call us to live humbly before God, in poverty of spirit and meekness, in righteousness and mercy, in peacemaking and purity of heart, shifting our focus off ourselves with service to others. Christ calls us to show love and compassion with mercy, to make peace and work for justice, acknowledging that our strength and our hope and every good thing come from the Lord.
 
Jesus felt the need to impress the Beatitudes upon his disciples (perhaps they began to feel noteworthy or important themselves because they were part of the band of the miracle-worker). When Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes, he had just called his disciples and traveled with them throughout Galilee working wonders, healing the sick, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. He was beginning to draw huge crowds, some who were eager to hear the words of the prophets come alive for them, others who wanted healing or to see “a show.” Jesus want- ed to be sure his disciples knew the source of all that wisdom and power.
 
At this stage, Jesus is raising the demands of his message, symbolized by ascending a mountain (not named, but surely one of significance) which also symbolized closeness to God and therefore his authority. Jesus in the Beatitudes did not focus his preaching on sin, but on going beyond sin to intentional righteousness. The Beatitudes (way beyond the Commandments) are a lesson in right living! 
 
Thursday is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the day when the Church traditionally blesses candles. (I remember as a kid, on this day there would be a mountain of candles stacked up near the communion rail. Pastors attempted to bless all the number of candles that would be needed for the whole year. This was quite an undertaking, not just the outlay of revenue to buy a year’s worth of candles at one time, but also the storage of them. Not to mention the task and bookwork necessary to calculate how many would be needed. I remember as an altar boy carrying candles to the rectory because there was not enough room in the sacristy.) Friday is the memorial of St. Blaise, the traditional day for the blessing of throats. (As a kid, I thought that we blessed throats with candles on the feast of St. Blaise because of his name — Blaise/blaze of fire on a candle.) Anyway, we will transfer both of these rites, blessing of candles and blessing of throats, to next Saturday/ Sunday, February 4/5, for the good of the larger Church present.
Fr. Bob 
 
 
    
 
“Dear Padre” page courtesy of:
Mahn Funeral Home
Peaceful Ridge Cemetery
Mausoleum - Monuments - Cremation
900 Main & Mahn Ave - De Soto, MO 63020 - 636-586-2288/515 Collins Ave.-Festus, MO 63028 - 636-937-4444 
www.mahnfuneralhome.com