The Lotto goes from strength to strength. Every week thousands of players ensure that whether they are home or way they are in with a chance to become rich. Many say that they do not want to become millionaires but that they would like to win enough to be more comfortable and to be able to provide for themselves and their families. It is said that those least able to afford the outlay are the most addicted. Their needs are certainly more pressing but the dream that wealth in itself brings happiness touches most hearts at some level in our world today.
This Sunday’s Gospel contains what we call the eight Beatitudes, what we might call a recipe for living and for happiness. It outlines a series of choices and gives us a programme for living. It is, in many ways, Jesus’ manifesto. We are all familiar with manifestos trotted out during general election campaigns. No matter how much good will is involved, no matter how well intentioned, promises will often be reneged on and many programmes will be put on hold. The big difference in the manifesto that Jesus offers is that it comes with a guarantee and a promise. As well as offering us the manifesto, Jesus offers us all that it takes to be able to live up to it. That is something that no earthly power could ever hope to achieve, let alone offer. The Beatitudes contain the secret of happiness. To be poor in spirit has nothing to do with living in poverty or without the basic necessities for life. It means that the inner me, the real me, is not influenced by wealth or greed or material things of any kind. The hunger that Jesus speaks of has to do with the hunger for justice, for fair play and equal rights. The deepest hungers in the human heart are not for wealth and riches but for self-worth, dignity and personal freedom.