What a tumultuous year – 2020! What words or sentiments can express where we have been and who we are now in light of where our world is as we live into the 21st Century ‘20’s’.
I believe that the Beatitudes can help us to capture where are hearts are now and where I hope we can be invited to deepen our heart’s adventure into grace.
The Beatitudes - they are descriptive of Jesus heart/mind. They are values of the kingdom and tell us what living in a kingdom of blessings is like. The Beatitudes express God’s life and longings revealed to us in the person of Jesus. The Beatitudes can seem to be out of reach because of our expectations that they should fit into what we consider what God’s life in us should be.
What can happen is that we tend towards looking at what we are not rather than God’s focus on us and who we can become, who we are called to be.
Are the Beatitudes rules and conditions for being blessed or receiving some kind of reward? No. They are not about building up, accomplishing, or acquiring. They are about letting go, surrendering, living with a vulnerable and open heart. That does not mean we run away, back down, or isolate ourselves from the realities of our life and world. It means that we engage them in a different way, Jesus way. We can trust God more than the circumstances of our lives. You are more than your circumstances!
That can begin to sound like weakness and foolishness. That is what it sounds like very often. However, to those who trust no matter what – it is the power of God. God chose what is foolish to shame the wise and what is weak to shame the mighty. The Beatitudes, when prayed within the deepest recesses of Jesus heart generating out to our hearts, are nothing less than the way of the cross. The fullest expression of the Beatitudes - a beautiful/blessed life is seen in Jesus dying on the cross. The Beatitudes, if really prayed, will take us to the cross.
In the difficulties and dramas of our life we discover that we cannot live life by ourselves. As we admit our need for God, we find purity of heart. The arrogance of self-sufficiency gives way to meekness. We realise that all that we are and have is from God and we begin to know ourselves as poor in spirit. Our own misfortunes awaken and connect us to the pain of the world for which we cannot help but mourn. We think less about ourselves and become merciful to others. We have no where else to go and so we turn our gaze back to God. The longer we gaze at God the more we hunger and thirst for righteousness, for God’s life, and we become peacemakers reconciling ourselves to God and our neighbour. This is the life for which Christ’s disciples are willing to be persecuted, a life of righteousness, the life for which Christ died and rose again.
The Beatitudes are not so much about what we do, our actions, but how we do, our being. They are less about actions and more about relationships. To live the Beatitudes is to live a life of reckless, exuberant, self-abandonment to God and our neighbour. That is called love. The only reason we can do that is because we know and trust ourselves to have already been blessed by God. We live the Beatitudes as a response to God blessing us. That is the way of Christ. That is not only the way forward through this life, but also the way to life. If we are to follow Christ it will become our way our truth and our life.
Let’s brace ourselves to welcome to Beatitudes and make them the beginning of the beginning!!
Dominic Gleeson msc