Beatitudes were not a new thing in the world of Jesus. They were pretty much common sense sayings that expressed what everyone already knew. They were short sayings that expressed the conventional wisdom. "Blessed are those on a low-fat diet, for they will have healthier arteries"--that sort of thing.
Jesus turns it all upside down. Nobody would have associated blessings with being poor or in grief. In the reign of God, however, God's favor and blessing is upon those who have been left behind--the little, the lone, the least, and the lost. The ones that are blessed are the most unlikely characters: the poor in spirit, the meek, the contrite, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst to be good and upright people. Those who are abused. These marginalized ones--the poor, lost, and bereft— were the majority part of the community that the followers of Jesus was made up of. They found Jesus’ message of God's favor to be empowering and uplifting.
Jesus doesn’t promise that in living into the beatitudes that we’ll be victorious in all of life’s situations and confrontations...the word Christ uses is ‘blessed’.
Perhaps, in the coming days we can evaluate how numerous our blessings are...even in a time such as this. May God speak through these words clearly to you as you read Matthew 5: 1-12, the beatitudes.
Matthew 5:1-12 (NRSV)
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I am blessed. I look around the world and I see so many living in much less certainty than I. I am thankful....even when I don’t always show it, may you search my heart and find it true.
I, and the others praying this prayer, pray for all of those in leadership around the globe who are working to find the best ways to treat and eliminate the virus that plagues our world. May you guide them. We pray for those who continue to serve our communities in these uncertain times. May you guard their health and protect their families.
We ask for courage and wisdom in the days ahead. May we speak and act in Christ's kindness and generosity. In Jesus’ name...Amen.