Week 5- Pondering the Beatitudes
Pondering the Beatitudes
By Chantal Hudicourt Ewald
I discovered the depth of the teachings of Christ in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12, NIV) when I met with a committee of Habitat for Humanity in a small town in Illinois. I had been invited to speak in a church to which they belonged. In preparation for the Sunday religious services, we came together the evening before to share reflections on the meaning of the Beatitudes.
Since then, whenever life’s troubles push my spirit far to the side, I rely on this passage of the Gospel to fill myself again with the wisdom of what God expects of us during our walk through this life. These words from Jesus are also poignant reminders as we draw near to the end of our Lenten journey.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Does Jesus not tell us that a true Christian has a spontaneous spirit, free of all preconceived notions? He points to the spirit of a child as an example of what he seeks from each of us.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
God will give the earth to those who are gentle. If we all followed this teaching, would there still be war, social exclusion or divisions among us?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Jesus knows that humans feel emptiness. Satisfaction comes in longing for God’s justice and yearning to be faithful disciples.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
We will harvest what we have sown. God gives to those who give to others. Does Jesus not reinforce this teaching when he speaks of feeding the hungry and offering drink to the thirsty?
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Whatever we do, we must do it with a pure heart, with no self-interest, with no hatred or revenge, no bad will or resentment. We must be self-disciplined and keep the good of the other person foremost in our minds.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Jesus asks that we place our personalities, our attitudes and our actions at the service of peace. He calls us to be instruments in His hands — instruments to eliminate division among people and to invest ourselves in the establishment of love and goodwill among all people.
Jesus announces that it is in following his teachings that we become his children, that we will see and enter into his kingdom. But Jesus also announces that the way is not easy: joy, comfort and the entry into paradise to be with God come through suffering.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
To accept the mission that Jesus confides to us in the Beatitudes is to accept tears; to accept the struggle for justice for all people; to accept that we will be persecuted, insulted and accused falsely, just as Jesus accepted these sufferings when he was on earth.
As he taught by both preaching and living the Beatitudes, suffering leads to glory, the glory of his resurrection and return to his Father. Jesus reminds everyone that, by following his teaching and accepting the suffering that comes from this choice, the kingdom of heaven will be open to us and, like Jesus, we will know the glory of our encounter with God. May we be near to those who suffer, those who strive to have a decent place in which to live that preserves dignity and installs hope in their lives.
Lord, help us, through the suffering of life and the privations of Lent, to enter deeply into ourselves and live fully the teachings of Jesus in the Beatitudes. Then, as promised by the Beatitudes, we will become children of God, enter God’s kingdom and celebrate the joy of meeting Christ on the day of Resurrection.
Do we make it a habit to always treat others as we would like to be treated?
When meeting people from different cultures, religions and races — or those in need — are we able to understand and accept their values and how they would like these needs to be met?
To what extent are we ready to suffer for others and have a child’s heart in our everyday lives?
Chantal Hudicourt Ewald is a former chair of Habitat for Humanity Haiti and a former member of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International.
Forty positive actions for Lent
Rather than emphasizing what you will “give up” for Lent, focus on positive actions you can take to demonstrate the extraordinary love of Jesus.