All Saints Day; Matthew 5; 11/1/20
Most of us have hobbies. I know that some of you work with wood and others with needlework and fabric. You have an image for what your completed work will look like and then you go about shaping the wood or the needlework and fabric into that image, sometimes making adjustments as you go.
The same is true in our spiritual life. The Holy Spirit in loving us is always about the task of shaping us into our true selves in his Image.
I am reminded of the song we have sung before: “Abba Father—mold us and fashion us into the image of Jesus….”
We have two creeds, Nicene and Apostles. I would like to think that Jesus’ Beatitudes in Matthew 5 is like a third creed except that instead of what we believe as stated in our creeds, the Beatitudes are what our beliefs are enacted—the Christ like life observed. The Beatitudes lived are concrete evidence of the Spirit moving in us.
For Jesus, truth is expressed through the qualities of: meekness, justice, peace, purity of heart, compassion, mercy, love of self, neighbor and enemy and devotion to God’s presence in the world.
Humility, peace, purity of heart and the others are the individual musical notes on God’s harmonious scale.
Each of the Beatitudes are intertwined, not separate.
For example, for peace making, justice, compassion and the others all require humility. Justice without humility is merciless. Without humility, compassion can never come to pass. The Beatitudes are all part of God’s symphony, each note sounding through us filling the universe with that symphony.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, means humility. Blessed are the poor in pride. We may be proud of our heritage and accomplishments for good reasons while underneath it all, humility means that we do not become inflated but rather see these as gifts of God. Social standing means nothing in the Kingdom of God. Humility comes from the word, humus, meaning of the earth—and treat others with value as well. Humility means that we bow to God and allow God to guide us in everything.
Mourning is a spiritual practice. Mourning is not self-pity although self-pity arises in the mourning process.
Mourning is the way we move more deeply into God after a loss, experiencing the Divine Heart grow in our broken one.
Blessed are the meek. Being gentle of spirit doesn’t mean that we become victims. Gentle spirits are able to respond instead of react or retaliate. We all know that quick tempers lead to unpleasant consequences. Gentleness of spirit comes from an inner strength that like supple trees are able to bend during a storm but do not break.
A gentle spirit enables a person to remain in contact with others allowing the presence of God to disarm them from their fear and anger. In the Old Testament this quality is known as chesed or loving kindness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Righteousness has multiple meanings: godliness, devout character and justice. Justice means living in “balance” with God’s natural law. Righteousness treats others with value.
Blessed are the merciful and the pure in heart.
Mercy involves compassion, offering loving kindness and mercy.
Pure in heart involves one who is sincere and contrite.
A contrite person acts with regret and sorrow for one’s wrongs. When we live in the experience of the presence of God, the Golden Rule lives through us. Contrition allows the Spirit to cleanse our hearts so that God might openly move through us.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Peacemakers often gathered at the gates of Jerusalem to offer their services as an alternative to a judge who could easily take a bribe.
One cannot give away what they haven’t received.
A peacemaker is filled with the presence of God.
Peace in the Aramaic, schlama, means “surrender.”
Making peace means that we yield to one another.
Only then can God make us one.
Blessed are the persecuted.
Sometimes I wince at this one. Who likes being persecuted?
As we grow spiritually, it is not unusual for us to change in our presence, priorities and behavior aligning more with the Spirit of Christ. We may no longer fit in with the norms and thought of the culture. These changes can awaken anxiety in others, sometimes to the point that they will turn on us.
When we are so merged into God that we can love unconditionally, we have already entered the Kingdom of God—the greatest reward of all.
Blessed are you. Enjoy the Spirit moving in your life.