Matthew 5:1-12 NRSVue
1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2And 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 the sake of righteousness, 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. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
We have no portrait of you, Lord, but in the Beatitudes you show us your interior landscape, the source of your joy. This is not a set of regulations, but a vision of where true happiness lies. Let me taste it, phrase by phrase.
Jesus lived every one of the ‘blesseds’. As you list them, notice how he might have lived them himself. He was merciful, pure in heart (single-minded), a peacemaker. All the others find space in his life. Note them as you read the gospel and in your prayer. Jesus knew each of the Beatitudes from the inside out. He knew just where the blessing and presence of God may be found.
A child was once asked for a definition of a saint. She said ‘A stained glass window!' Asked why, she exolained, ‘The different colours let in the light and every saint is a different colour of God.' Every one of our unknown saints coloured God in a new way in his or her corner of the globe. On All Saints Day we are grateful for the lives of so many people of every age, church and century who have lived their lives as best they could within the vision and spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What the world sees as tragic or empty, Jesus sees as blessed: humility, mourning, gentleness, peacefulness and other virtues. Jesus lived by these qualities himself and we can notice them in his words and actions during his life with us on earth. He could encourage us to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes because he himself lived them and knew that a life of integrity and honesty is indeed a blessed life.
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.