Matthew 5: 1-12
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that – count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens – give a cheer, even! – for though they don’t like it, I do!
And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
The path has moved a bit this week due to All Saints Day on this Sunday. The Beatitudes offer a sense of mission and promise to us all. This translation uses the word ‘happy’ when ‘blessed’ may be more correct – happy is a far less predictable state of mind and owes too much to us getting what we want. Blessed suggests that maybe we are getting what God wants. . Even though, both seem somewhat of a challenge to the situations Jesus is talking about; how to feel blessed when you are at the bottom looking up.
We are asked to believe that this is true. As adults in a secular world we are told that we are the masters of our fate. Often, it is only when we lose control that we remember that there is another ‘Master’ who is more powerful and more forgiving than the world would suggest. The only thing that divides us from the Saints is this knowledge. In persecution, grief or suffering it isn’t our strength that needs bolstering. It is the faith in a God who is stronger and more compassionate than we will ever be.