Sunday, July 17, 2016
“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” ― Roy T. Bennett
As long as I’m out on this branch, I may as well stay here. The Beatitudes, while so common to us as we have heard them all our lives, were extremely radical to those who heard them for the first time. It was the opposite of the Beatitude that was the custom and common belief of the day. These really were the Radical-attitudes. Luke knew this and gave us the clue to how radical these were with the four “woes” that he included in his gospel: “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Suppose we follow Luke’s lead and think about the opposites to the eight beatitudes in Matthew. Instead of “Blessed are the poor in spirit” we would get “cursed are those who are self-righteous and holier-than-thou.” “Blessed are they who mourn” would become “cursed are those who have no compassion and cold hearts.” “Blessed are the meek” becomes “cursed are the arrogant and cruel.” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” might be “cursed are those who feel God has made them to be above others.” “Blessed are the merciful” could be “cursed are the vengeful who seek retribution.” And “blessed are the pure in heart” might well be “cursed are those who think only of themselves and hate others.” This is an easy one, “blessed are the peacemakers” becomes “cursed are they who seek only war and violence as it is all they know.” Finally, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness” becomes rather damningly “cursed are those who persecute because of religious beliefs.” I wish I could say that I have never been in the “cursed” group, but I have. It is my prayer and hope that I have moved into “blessedness” but that is a judgement for God to make. I am living my life so that the “blessed” sayings more closely fit who I am, but I know I fail from time to time. Now, the “cursed” things I added are mine and mine alone, just things I think are opposites of the blessedness of which Christ speaks. You can put in your own, and I encourage you to do so. You can also finish the sayings so that “cursed are the arrogant and cruel” finishes with “for they shall feel the wrath and anger of God” or “for they shall never know love.” Well, you get the idea. The main thing to remember is that the people listening to Jesus did not consider the groups He called blessed to be blessed. Rather, it was the thought at that time that those were the cursed ones. I love the radicalness of what Jesus told them, and I would have squirmed and felt uneasy as I realized I was not among the blessed. I believe I am now, but only time, and a forgiving God will tell.