4th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Zep 2:3; 3:12-13; Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10; 1 Cor 1:26-31; Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a
Over the past couple of weeks we have been talking about the various parts of the Mass in an effort to help us enter more deeply into our worship of God.
Today we are going to take a guided tour of the Communion Rite, and to help us out I have had guide books printed up and placed in all of the pews. If you don’t already have your guidebook with you then please locate one, they are labeled missalettes and we are on page 154.
I also thought that an experienced guide would help as well. Today, our guide is none other than Blessed Pier Frassati, a university student from Turin, Italy.
Pier was born in 1901, to rich parents. His father was an ardent agnostic and his mother a devout Catholic. Pier loved the outdoors and is often pictured climbing mountains and skiing. When he was beatified in 1990 Pope John Paul II described him as “The man of the Beatitudes”, so Pier works well with our Gospel today as well.
Pier had a great love for the Eucharist. When he would go skiing in the Alps he would begin his day with Mass, spend all day on the slopes and then return in the evening to visit Jesus in adoration. Sometimes he would spend all night adoring Christ in his parish church.
In the Gospel today, Jesus teaches us the Beatitudes from atop a mountain. So equipped with our guidebooks, and our guide let us go though the Communion Rite of the Mass and pause along the way to take in some of the beautiful views and awesome vista’s that we can see when we get to the height of the Mass.
The first place that I would like to visit is the Our Father. We begin the communion rite by praying the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. This is a good prayer for us to say on a daily basis.
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray these words: “Thy Kingdom Come…”. In the Gospel today, Jesus teaches “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
If we want God’s Kingdom to come then we need to be poor in spirit. The reason why this is the first of the beatitudes is that true humility is the foundation for a healthy spiritual life. When we ask God for his Kingdom to come we need to get out of the way and let him work through us. God can’t do this if we are too busy saying to Him – “It’s ok Lord, I’ll handle this one…” Blessed Pier used to ride 3rd class on the train and run rather than take buses so he could spend the money he saved in bus fare to help the poor of his community. When asked by a friend why he rode in the third class he answered “Well, they don’t have a fourth class!”
Later on in the Lord’s prayer we pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”. In the Gospel, Christ says “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
To be merciful means that we build our relationships around our ability to forgive others their faults. When was the last time you hurt someone and had to ask for their forgiveness? [[PAUSE]] How did it affect your relationship? [[PAUSE]] When was the last time someone asked you for forgiveness? [[PAUSE]] Did you respond with vengeance or mercy? [[PAUSE]]
Moving on up higher still in our climb, we come to the Sign of Peace. Later on in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says “If you bring your gift to the altar and there realize that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” In the Beatitudes Jesus teaches “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”.
This readiness to seek peace is built on the humility to see our own fault in the troubles of our relationships. It also requires us to be merciful. When we can humbly show mercy then seeking after peace becomes easy.
Pier discovered that it was his own sin that disturbed his peace, and so he became acutely aware of the need to reconcile those relationships that were hurt in his life. Sometimes this was with his Dad, whose political views he did not agree with.
After the sign of Peace we pray the “Lamb of God” – asking Christ for his mercy, which we know he will gladly give because he teaches us “Blessed are the Merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. This is similar to the centurions prayer “Lord I am not worthy..” – because we recognize that we are all beggars before God. We are like the good thief who while he was being crucified with Christ asked Jesus “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.
Now we arrive at the moment of Communion. This is when we approach God and invite him into our hearts and souls. We approach God it is with reverence, with a bow of our head.
I invite you to make this moment of communion an intensely personal moment. When you see Christ, welcome him into your life. When we receive Holy Communion, either on our tongue or the hand, the Minister says “The Body of Christ”, and we respond: “Amen” – which means “I believe”. Then afterwards as you return to your pew, invite Jesus into your heart. Let your heart share its depths with the heart of Christ.
Blessed Pier said this about Holy Communion:
“I exhort you with all the strength of my soul to approach to the Eucharistic Table as often as possible. Nourished with the Bread of the angels from which you draw the strength to vanquish in the battles against the passions and all adversity, because Jesus Christ promised eternal life and the graces to obtain it, to those who nourish themselves with the Holy Eucharist.
And when you are consumed by the Eucharistic fire, you will be able to thank the Lord God with even more recognition, you who are called to be a member of His flock; will receive a peace that those who are happy according to the world have never tasted. Because real happiness, my friends; does not consist of the pleasures of the world and the realities of the earth, but in the peace of conscience that we have only if we have a heart that is pure and in the spirit."
In June of 1925 one of Pier’s friends took a picture of him climbing a cliff, Pier wrote his motto on it; “Verso l’alto!” this is Italian for “To the Top!” On month later he contracted polio and died in five days. He never stopped climbing towards heaven, when he was dying he gave a list of names to his sister, these were the poor people that he spent his saved bus fare on. He asked her to make sure that they were cared for.
When mass ends today, and we are sent forth, let us remember why we came here – to gain the strength we need to get “To the Top!” – to heaven with God and Blessed Pier. Then let us live out the Beatitudes this week with Humility, Mercy seeking Peace and Forgiveness in our communities. Brothers and Sisters – “Verso l’alto!”