Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Beatitudes

My sense is that I have never understood the Beatitudes very well. But as I have read them this week I feel like I may have made some small progress.

Notes that in several of the Beatitudes these is a state of spiritual longing or deficiency which will find relief, be satisfied, or comforted when certain types of people come in contact with the divine. This seems important because many take the beatitudes as a list of ideal traits of those who wish to follow Christ. But the language of the beatitudes is specific and further, contains no sense of becoming, or emerging, so if these are the traits we should cultivate in ourselves why isn’t there a sense of our individual transformation found in the Beatitudes? Perhaps its because the Beatitudes are for small groups yet, we want to make them universal, or we see what is promised to the people mentioned in the Beatitudes and we seek such rewards ourselves. Or maybe its because we want to see ourselves in the scriptures and so rather than admitting that one or more of the Beatitudes do not apply to us, we read ourselves into them.

To be honest, the question of how can we become meek, humble, or peacemakers and so on. Can be questions worth asking, but I am not sure these are the questions posed by the Beatitudes themselves. In any event these are questions that we can’t approach as generalities, by necessity these questions are unique to each individual, its only as individuals that we might have a chance of understanding our relationship to meekness, or mourning, or our understanding / concern for justice.

I would have to say though that I think the language of the Beatitudes offers an invitation to those who might feel that they would be found lacking, or unworthy to offer themselves to the fullness of God’s love. Such abundance of love can only feel uncomfortable, overwhelming to us as we dwell in our loss, in our state of half love, and unsatisfied hunger for God’s justice. The beatitudes may be saying to some among us that its o.k. in the end you will know the love and justice that seem so distant in life.