Beatitudes

I’ve just finished preparation for leading my Mom’s Group discussion on Wednesday. We’ve been doing a study of the Gospel of Matthew and it just so happens that my day in charge has fallen on Chapter 5, the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously, we’re supposed to discuss Jesus’ most intense, beautiful and revolutionary sermon in one hour, while eating bagels? Shocking, I know.

So, as much as I’m supposed to be ready to discuss the entire chapter tomorrow, I can’t get past the Beatitudes: I love beautiful words. And I love how Jesus turns everything upside down. Or, to quote a little Tim Keller up in here, I love how in the world Jesus is making, “everything sad becomes untrue.”

In the past I’ve thought of the Beatitudes (read them here, if you’re unfamiliar) as being some sort of mysterious “to do” list. Or even a list of things I would be if I were really the woman of faith I wish I were. So, as I’ve focused on this passage this past week and attempted to memorize the Beatitudes along with The Song of Wandering Aengus (see! I haven’t forgotten!), I’ve opened up to the idea that this isn’t some other reminder of my own failures, it is Christ’s declaration that there is actually good news. The sad is coming untrue.

Is it reality in our world that the poor in spirit, the brokenhearted, the powerless, those who want to be righteous but are actually only hungry and thirsty for it, are the ones who are blessed? Hardly. It doesn’t take much awareness to recognize that those on Jesus’ list are certainly not the blessed ones. They are the world’s most tossed aside, the trampled on: the single mother without health insurance, the sex slave, the imprisoned, the moral failure who can’t forgive himself.

Which brings me back to Jesus. The question I feel like I’m continually asking myself about my faith is, “What does it mean to believe this thing?” In this case: What does it mean for me to have hope that Christ is (currently, as we speak, miraculously) turning the world upside down, making the most broken and the most vulnerable the most blessed by God? It seems impossible to believe that’s happening now, The world is not more hopeful this week than it was last. So, does that leave us only with some spacey longing for Heaven and some relief that then, someday, the broken will be made whole?

I’m choosing to believe that just as Jesus spoke of his Kingdom coming in the here and now, I can hope for a blessing for the ones Jesus speaks of in the first few verses of the Beatitudes. One of the great things about believing in mystery is that it doesn’t have to be explained. That may frustrate you; it frustrates me three-quarters of the time. But the other quarter of my life, the non thinking part, gets to ease into the idea that Jesus is good, that there is hope, and that to him, the most important person in the world right now is the least to the rest of us.

Perhaps realizing that truth is the blessing…

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