The Beatitudes continued…
Because the Beatitudes, as everybody, you can read many things and commentaries of the Beatitudes to understand that they are the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus and the Sermon on Plain in Luke. The Sermon on the Mount is very much about the relationship of one to another. Including of course to pray the Our Father.
How do we identify ourselves as persons who live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ?
This Carmelite life? The Rule of St. Albert?
A life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and that allegiance to Jesus Christ brings us to identify ourselves with certain people and to see in certain aspects, and certain virtues and certain approaches to living how we have to live in order to be in allegiance to Jesus Christ, in order to be loyal to Jesus. The structure of the eight Beatitudes that are more famous, form the fifth chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel and you see sometimes hanging on walls, you can see it when you go to religious gift shops and see a plaque that has the eight beatitudes. People look at them like they belong on a Hallmark card, you know, but they are really very demanding and they are not so cute. They are cute on the card, but they are not so cute in living them out because they are demanding an attitude of us. That doesn’t come naturally to us in certain ways. I do not think that it comes naturally to us as Americans – to live the Beatitudes the way the Gospels teach the Beatitudes. And they certainly don’t come naturally to us as an approach to us to living life.
The eight Beatitudes, you can almost divide them into two sections of four. How I am going to read the traditional ones that most will remember from grade school.
1. blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for justice, you shall have your fill.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
There are two sets. The fourth one and eighth one go together, almost as a refrain, the way we do sometimes in the Psalms Response. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall have their fill. Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice, for they shall have their fill. The justice that exists in the Bible, is not the justice that you and I understood, when we say justice is going to be done. We mean justice as
punishment. We mean justice as revenge. That is not at all evangelical. That is not at all scriptural. It is not at all the justice of God. I often wonder especially when I am read the Gospels, it sort of shocks me sometimes, as the day of the Lord is when we let everybody out of prison. We find so many reasons to keep people in prison, because justice has to be done.
We are very conditioned in our attitudes; we get a lot more information about how to live from the television, from the newspaper, the means of communication than we do from the Gospels. So, we have a tendency to skip over what these things say to us because they are conditioned by how we understand. Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for justice. It is almost like we might exaggeratingly say we understand these as vigilante groups who go out to punish people. They are doing justice. They are not seeking forgiveness.
• Justice is to look out for the poor.
• Justice is to make sure people eat.
• Justice is to make sure people are clothed.
• Justice is to make sure people have what they need to be human and to live humanly.
• Justice is to forgive. Sister said, “actions speak louder than words.” Sister said “God’s
justice was God’s mercy.”
Through all of tradition so many things, all Christian tradition, in theology, in philosophy, so many other things have interrupted almost, or infused themselves, or inched their way into spirituality, into scripture, into following Christ that we almost get political in the way we interpret or understand our approach to life, to living. It comes from whom we identify with One of the things about in the American system of justice is that we have the death penalty. Yet the Holy Father so strongly speaks against the death penalty. And, at least according to surveys, a majority of Catholics are in favor of the death penalty.
So our American idea of justice is more important than Jesus’ idea of justice. Again, I’m trying to be practical in pointing out that this is not easy, to live an evangelical life. Yet it is what you promised to do, and that is so solemn that promise, that the Church says that’s how you become a member. You can quote St. Teresa up and down, St John of Cross left to right, St. Therese, everything, but if you do not follow Jesus, you are not a Carmelite.