Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Beatitudes

This morning I was able to attend my sister Barbara's parish, Deb's parish. I got to worship and chat with Deb, who is Barbara's godmother, and with Deb's equally wonderful godmother, Carol. What loves they both are!

Today I was especially struck by the Beatitudes, probably because singing them at Divine Liturgy usually made Barbara cry, if she weren't crying already before then. When I asked her why, she said she just loved and was comforted by the way they turned the usual world upside down.

I remembered today how a New Testament professor whose class I took (many years ago), a Baptist, told us the Beatitudes were to be considered hyperbole. Jesus was exaggerating to make His point. And I remembered an Orthodox priest telling us during a Bible study session that the Beatitudes were the New Testament moral code.

They were both so, so wrong. The Beatitudes are descriptions of what Christ's life, lived in our flesh, is like. They describe how things really are when we live in Christ, when He lives in us. And there's no hyperbole at all; Barbara knew they just describe the sober reality she had found.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven...