Reading: Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Matthew 5:1-2.
Good morning, happy Monday, and many blessings.
There are no portraits of Jesus, but the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) offer a glimpse of his interior landscape, of the sources of his happiness. There are people who believe that ‘You cannot govern with the Sermon on the Mount’. It is not legislation, but an interior vision, fired by a hunger for justice in this world, and confidence in a future when the mourners will be comforted, the poor will be enriched, and the meek will inherit the earth.
In the Bible, poverty is an evil that must be corrected; wealth, on the other hand, is an evil, it is not a necessity for the well-being of the kingdom. And the love of riches can lead to neglect of God. The Christian community has always tried to make caring for the poor its priority, since it is God's priority. Is it also my priority?
Each of the ‘blesseds’ is a statement about something important in the Christian life. They are an ideal of how to live and how to find God close to us. You could look over your life and see if they fit, make sense, if they have brought a certain wholeness to life when you were humble, merciful, peace-maker, justice-worker, mocked for your beliefs, or gentle. God is close to us when we are like that. We can ask for the grace to live by this vision of life, which was at the root of how Jesus lived.
Easy to recite these ‘blesseds’ as a sort of mantra. They are the vision statement of Jesus. He lived what he said – that all of life is blessed, even the experiences we might never ask for. All who live according to his way of life are – and will be – richly blessed.
I allow these blessings to come home to me. I imagine Jesus carefully speaking them to me, aware of my poverty, sadness and hunger. As I live with difficulties, I seek to hear Jesus speaking the Beatitudes to me as I encounter them.
The Beatitudes have their own version of "Have a blessed day." A lot of people think the Beatitudes were invented by Jesus. In reality they are a wisdom genre common to the Old Testament Psalms and Proverbs. In the Old Testament, Israel's sages and poets use them to commend admirable but traditional actions and attitudes.
The Beatitudes show me what is in the heart of Jesus, what he considered to be signs of God's kingdom. I pray that my eyes be blessed to recognize how the kingdom of God is around and about me. I might choose two of these beatitudes to be a backdrop to my prayer and reflection today: one that affirms me and one that calls me further.