1 Corinthians 1.18–31
There are three principles for living into the spirit of the Beatitudes: simplicity, hopefulness, and compassion. (Charles James Cook, in Feasting on the Word: Year A, Vol.1)
Today we heard the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…
And so on.
These words are all well known to us. But do we let them penetrate our hearts?
Let’s admit it, on the face of it, they are pretty absurd. ‘Blessed are the meek’? Is that how Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin got where they are today?
‘Blessed are those who mourn’? You don’t feel ‘blessed’ when you are grieving.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’? The arrogant and super-confident are better candidates for blessedness!
So let’s try to get a hold of what ‘blessedness’ is.
Normally, we might say we’re blest if something wonderful happens to us. We are blest when a new baby comes into the family. We are blest if we get good weather for a family wedding.
Or we may say we’re blest by natural gifts and talents, by good looks, a musical gift or high intelligence.
We could say we’re blest to live in Australia.
(I just want to say I’m avoiding the word ‘happy’ here. It’s a misleading translation. I may be blest to live in Australia, whether I’m happy or not. I could be blest with a wonderful singing voice—(I’m not!)—but be unhappy. You can be blest without being happy.)
So, Jesus is not saying you have to put a happy face on when you are mourning for something or someone. But he is saying you are blest.
This is the thing about the Beatitudes:
Normally, we say we are blest because we have a gift or because we live in fortunate circumstances.
The Beatitudes declare people blest when they lack something real and true, or yearn for something real and true, or accept something that is real and true.