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How to Be Blessed

February 1, 2017

This is too good not to share with you, so I yield this space to Timothy Merrill —

My wife and I were traveling in Ireland a couple of summers ago, and we went to a vesper service on a Saturday evening at a Dominican priory in Waterford — the home of Waterford crystal.

The abbot happened to be speaking about the Beatitudes on this occasion. He began with the meaning of the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

He suggested that one way to understand this verse is to play around with the word order and read it like this: “Blessed are those who have the spirit of the poor.”

In other words, the people of God’s world are those who identify themselves with those who have less, with those who struggle to survive, with those whose options are limited by systems and structures beyond their control.

We are blessed when we can enter into their suffering and can see as they see. The poor, then, become more than an abstract concept, or a demographic entity removed from our own experience. We have become them, for we have their spirit.

I thought this was an important insight, and I wondered why the Beatitudes are not taught more frequently in the church and lifted up in the culture as well. We hear a lot about the Ten Commandments, but not so much about the eight (or nine) Beatitudes.

Writer Kurt Vonnegut offers the following observation: “For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And, of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.”

The Beatitudes have much to teach us about developing the spirit of the poor, enlarging our capacity to mourn, increasing our willingness to be humble and so much more. This week, let’s live in a way that is a blessing, a beatitude, to others!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to be one of the “blessed” ones! Help me to have the spirit of the poor, to comfort others and to engage with others meekness, that is, without needing to have everything done my way. In your name. Amen. — by Timothy Merrill

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