Here are few more ideas to put into practice the Big Three:
- Fast from music or talk radio in the car.
- Give up coffee (or cut it down to one cup?!)
- Give up all desserts.
- Meditate for 10 minutes a day.
- Read the CCC’s 74 page section on prayer. (less than 2 pages a day)
- Read a book on the Life of Christ. (other than the NT)
- Visit a nursing home with your children.
- Visit an elderly friend or relative.
- Say a kind word to everyone you meet.
The Kingdom of Heaven I
In Matthew’s Gospel, the expression, “the kingdom of heaven” appears more than 30 times. This phrase is not attested to in Jewish or Christian texts before this Gospel; however it is not an altogether novel idea. It is rooted in OT expectations of a Messianic age.
In the Book of Daniel, for instance, it is said that the God of Heaven will triumph over the kingdoms of this world by establishing His royal dominion over the whole earth. (Dan 2:7) Daniel forsees in a vision that God will exercise His Divine Kingship through “one like the son of man.” (Dan 7:13-14) Several times in Matthew, Jesus identifies Himself with Daniel’s royal figure. (24:30; 26:64; 28:18)
There is a historical background to the kingdom of heaven in the ancient monarchy of David and in prophetic hopes for its restoration. In the Davidic covenant, the Lord swore an oath to establish the kingdom of David forever.(2 Sam 7: 12-17; Ps 89: 3-4) In the sixth century BC, Davidic kingship was eclipsed, so the prophets envisioned the coming of a new David to restore his kingdom for all time. (Is 9:6-7; 11: 1-5: 55: 3-5; Jer 23: 5-6; Ezek 34: 23-24; Hos 3: 4-5; Amos 9: 11-12) So Matthew sees Jesus as this messianic “son of David.” (1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20: 30; 21: 9,15) Jesus has achieved a transcendant fulfillment that brings the ancient Davidic ideal to its perfection. In the risen Jesus, Davidic rule is forever restored and given universal extension over heaven and earth and all nations. (28: 18-19)
Back to the Beatitudes
Blessed are those who mourn: those that lament the present state of this life. This includes weeping for sins as well as the grief that comes when the saints are made to suffer for their faith. In the life to come, they will be comforted by God, Who wipes away every tear.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of Living Water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Rev 7: 17)
Blessed are the meek: Those who appear powerless and insignificant in the eyes of the world. Far from being weak however, the meek possess an inner strength to restrain anger and discouragement in the midst of adversity. An exemplar of meekness in the OT is the life of Moses (Num 12:3). Jesus is the Supreme Exemplar of meekness. (11:29; 21:5)
Inherit the earth: This refers either to heaven itself, envisioned as a New Promised Land (Heb 11:16) or to the new creation that is to come. (Rom 8: 21; Rev 21: 1)
Question of the day: In Matthew, “the kingdom of heaven” is a theme that branches out, from Christ as its center, in several directions. One of the directions is ETHICAL in that it requires a human response. According to Matthew, what are some of these responses?
Meditation for the day: Lent imitates Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. Jesus began His “Lent” filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. Are we letting the Spirit direct us this Lent?