Readings: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12
The Beatitudes describe a compelling beauty but a very fragile beauty. Doesn’t each beatitude begin with our fragility, our vulnerability?
Have you ever noticed that Jesus is addressing his disciples who have gathered around him? Yes, he saw the crowds but he speaks to his disciples after he had sat down. This is an intimate conversation, not a pep rally, certainly not just rhetoric. Perhaps he is indicating the conditions of people who constitute the crowds. Might these Beatitudes not be a key to approaching them, recognizing them better to respond better to them? What a lesson for any shepherd of souls!
As I’ve already suggested, each Beatitude begins with our vulnerability: people who are poor in spirit, who mourn or are meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness are not the winners. In fact they–as well as the disciples–might be surprised to hear themselves called blessed!
Have you ever tried to make peace between contending factions? It’s not an enviable exercise! Don’t we all know how difficult it is to be merciful? And the pure of heart–how do I become pure of heart? I now think it has less to do with remaining unsullied–which can be both fearful and smug–and more to do with learning what is false and rejecting it. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness? That doesn’t sound like fun.
And yet, if you’ve lived through any of these conditions–lived and embraced them, rather than wiggle out of them–you’ll recognize the taste of truth in what Jesus is saying.
Maybe that’s the point: don’t try to reason them out; don’t try to wiggle out of the Beatitudes–just try them.