With God, life is forever.
Deacon Patrick Constantino | Photos courtesy Jamie Kaiali‘ili‘i
My Grandson Wesly “Keola” Kaiali‘ili‘i wanted so much to come home to be with his family, after staying at Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu for four months. Gone but will never be forgotten! Death is not the end! Death is a transformation and continuation of this Life to Eternal Life with God in Heaven! My Homily based on Matthew 5:1-12a is reflected in the Life of our Grandson Keola.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
I think about the power of silence when I read our Bible passage for today. Let’s set this teaching in context first. In Matthew 4, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness where he was tested by the devil. When He emerged from the wilderness, He called his first disciples to join Him, and He began His public ministry. Matthew 4:23 reads, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
Keep those words in mind: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Soon, Jesus had a large crowd following him. Can you blame them? I’d follow a guy who can heal diseases and cast out demons! That’s a great way to become the most popular man in town.
And what were Jesus’ disciples doing all this time? If they were smart, they would be selling autographed photos and other Jesus-themed merchandise. Turn it into a profitable enterprise. Just kidding, of course. But surely, they were getting excited at the success of Jesus’ ministry. So it must have seemed strange that, as we read in Matthew 5, Jesus walked away from the huge crowds and retreated to a mountainside. Why interrupt a good thing? Wasn’t this the perfect time to draw the crowd in with a few more miracles? But Jesus knew before He went any further, He needed His disciples to catch His vision for His ministry God had called them to.
So, He took them away from all the noise of the crowds. Note this teaching is only for His followers. He needs to ensure that their purpose is not lost in their newly won popularity. He needs them to understand His miracles and teaching are not an end in themselves. He did not come to bring peace, power or prosperity. He wanted them to see the true blessings of life were not found in the comforts of this world.
Those huge crowds of people came to see Jesus because they had a need. They were hurting. They needed healing.
They needed to be set free from their demons. They needed to know God is real. That God sees them and loves them. Can you relate to those needs? I can. They followed Jesus because they had a burden, a heartbreak, a need only He could fill. It’s when you’ve lost the comforts, the security, the false blessings of this world that you feel the need of God. In fact, those who put their hope in the comforts of this world may miss the greatest blessing God intends for them, knowing God and God’s steadfast love for them.
It doesn’t matter how comfortable your current circumstances in life are if you don’t have the joy of knowing there is a God, and that God loves you. That is a source of hope that can sustain you through any challenges. Blessed are those who don’t put their hope in the comforts of this world.
The second thing Jesus teaches us is “You’re blessed if you live in two worlds.” The number one priority of Jesus’ earthly ministry was teaching about and living out the value of the kingdom of God. Jesus kicked off his ministry by preaching about the kingdom of God. And after His death and resurrection, when He appeared again to His followers, He spent forty days speaking to them about, guess what? That’s right, the kingdom of God. His miracles and healings were signs of the restoration God promises in God’s future kingdom.
Why does Matthew 4:23 say Jesus preached “the good news of the Kingdom?” Jesus explains in these verses of Matthew 5. The kingdom is good news because it means the suffering and poverty and injustice and inequality and grief of this world are temporary. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, Rev. 21:4. God will fill the hungry with good things, Luke 1:53. God will restore what’s broken and make all things new. But for now, we live in the tension between those two worlds, the world of suffering and poverty and pain, and the kingdom of healing and restoration and joy.
In Jesus, we know God understands our needs. God understands our hurts and our sacrifices. We cannot put our hope in the comforts of this world. But God has promised us a kingdom in which every tear will be wiped away and every broken thing restored. So, we can find strength in the knowledge God walks beside us in our brokenness and find assurance God will turn our brokenness into blessedness and all things will be made new in His Kingdom.
Jesus, I trust in You! Amen!
On July 1, 2022, Patrick Constantino retired as a Deacon for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i, after serving for thirty-five years and becoming on June 18, 1987, the first Deacon of Filipino ancestry for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i. For twenty-two years, he served as Administrator at Holy Rosary Church in Pā‘ia, St. Rita Church in Ha‘ikū and St. Gabriel Church in Ke‘anae. His last assignment before retiring was at St. Joseph Church in Makawao.
Prior to his ordination, Constantino was in government—first appointed in 1966 as Assistant Sergeant of Arms by the Speaker of the House Elmer F. Cravalho. When Cravalho became Maui’s first Mayor, Constantino became his Executive Assistant—the first of Filipino ancestry. Later, Constantino became the first County Treasurer of Filipino ancestry and the first County Grants Administrator and Risk Manager of Filipino ancestry.
Constantino is married to his lovely wife Corazon for sixty-one years.