When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he began to speak and taught them, saying:
“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 righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in 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 the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
On the Feast of All Saints, we celebrate God’s presence in and with the body of Christ (the church) past, present, and future. We remember that we, too, are called to be saints, to practice living into the characteristics of true discipleship, as outlined in the Beatitudes. Situated in Matthew’s Gospel, within Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes reveal the way to blessedness.
A revolution is happening and Jesus proclaims it from the mountaintop. A new vision of how the world should be organized, the reign of God on earth, upends the values of the world by favoring the poor, the merciful, the mourning, and those rejected for doing the right thing. In recognizing their dependence on and putting their trust in God, the weak will know the fullness of life and love that God promises. How shocking that the way to blessedness is through inadequacy and vulnerability.
The experience of Jesus’s first followers resembles our current situation in some ways, in that we also live in a time of uncertainty, violence, and fear. But Jesus’s words assure us that God meets us right here in the tragedy that surrounds us. God’s accompaniment is and will be the source of fulfillment for those who turn to God.
The Beatitudes challenge us to become what we receive, to become a blessing in this world, and thus to know true happiness.
In her “Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted,” research professor Dr. Brené Brown, who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, spells out how we can participate in God’s healing action in the world: “We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure. Showing up is our power.”
Perhaps our showing up is the first step in the reorganization of the world that God has in mind for us. To be sure, it is the step we must take again and again, to cultivate the kind of holiness the world requires of us.
How do the Beatitudes challenge your view of what it means to be blessed by God? How does your life bear witness to the blessings of God? What insights do the Beatitudes bring to the life and death situations facing our world? And which beatitude is God calling you to embrace in your life today?
—Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
In a compelling teaching on the Sermon on the Mount, Professor Amy-Jill Levine breaks down the Beatitudes and frames each of them in the context of the world today.
“Beatitudes for a Queerer Church” by trans Christian performance artist and educator Jay Hulme includes the following tender verse:
And blessed are those
who believe themselves unworthy of blessing;
what inconceivable wonders you hold.
In “I Shall Not Want,” singer-songwriter Audrey Assad expresses the fears and challenges of engaging the radical values of discipleship proclaimed by Jesus.
Learn how to pray the Examen, an Ignatian spiritual practice that begins with a review of your day and follows a sequence of noticing and responding to God’s presence. This Examen prayer is focused on the Beatitudes.
From the Art and Theology blog, a fresh collection of contemporary art, poetry, and song inspired by the Beatitudes.