"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 righteousness' sake, 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.
These statements that Jesus makes during his “Sermon on the Mount” are often referred to as the Beatitudes. They are counterintuitive—poor people, in spirit or otherwise, are not “blessed” or “happy,” not in my experience anyway. Nor are mournful, meek, hungry, or persecuted ones happy. In fact, in our culture, happiness is tied to the pursuit of getting more—more stuff, more friends, more likes, more, more, more!
But what if that pursuit is a distraction from something...more?
Among other things, Jesus introduced in these statements a completely new set of values—ones that lifted the lowly, offered hope to the hopeless, and marked the miserable with a sign of redemption.
Often we operate with a different set of values, so I wonder: what might happen if our quiet prayer, deep within our hearts, echoed the counterintuitive words of the Beatitudes? Would we be changed? Would we change the way we engage others? Would they be changed as well, and would the world change around us?