If you were looking to fill your life with goodness and happiness, with fulfillment and satisfaction, with all the finest blessings available to humanity, where would you start?
The world and our humanity often lead us astray in this quest, and the teachings of Jesus present a stark contrast to the path the world prescribes.
Today’s difficult teaching is…
“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 will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for their righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This reading is from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 5, verses 3-10. These eight blessings are known as the Beatitudes and were presented as part of the Sermon on the Mount.
Everywhere you turn in the Gospel’s you find paradoxes, and that is certainly true here in the Beatitudes. What is a paradox? Something that seems untrue or absurd that upon investigation you discover to be true. Why does Jesus use so many paradoxes? I don’t know. But I do know this. Jesus is himself the ultimate paradox. He is the God-Man, and that is the paradox of all paradoxes.
We could spend the rest of our lives studying these verses. They provide an endless spring of wisdom to explore. So, where do we start.
I think the paradoxes serve to capture our attention, to help us to realize the magnitude of the summons that Jesus is placing upon our lives.
This is the uncomfortable and often unspoken truth. The path Jesus is inviting us to walk through these difficult teachings is not a slight variation of the path the world is offering or even the path we are on. His path is radically different.
The magnitude of his invitation forces us to make a decision. In the Beatitudes Jesus lays out a path that is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural and clearly labels it the path of the Blessed.
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