The ‘How-to-Be’ Attitudes
The temptation is to think that the beatitudes are rules or conditions for being blessed or receiving our heavenly reward. They are not that at all. They are not about building up, accomplishing, or acquiring. They are about letting go, surrendering, living with a vulnerable and open heart. That does not mean we run away, back down, or isolate ourselves from the realities of our life and world. It means we engage them in a different way, Jesus’ way. The beatitudes teach us to trust God more than the external circumstances of our lives. They invite dependence on God rather than self-reliance.
In the trauma and setbacks of life we discover that we cannot do life by ourselves. As we admit our need of God we find purity of heart. The arrogance of self-sufficiency gives way to meekness. We realise that all that we are and have is from God and we begin to know ourselves as poor in spirit. Our own misfortunes awaken and connect us to the pain of the world for which we cannot help but mourn. We think less about ourselves and become merciful to others. We have nowhere else to go and so we turn our gaze back to God. The longer we gaze at God the more we hunger and thirst for righteousness, for God’s life, and we become peacemakers reconciling ourselves to God and our neighbour. This is the life for which Christ’s disciples are willing to be persecuted, a life of righteousness, the life for which Christ died and rose again.
The beatitudes are not so much about what we do (our actions), but how we do, (our being). They are less about actions and more about relationships. To live the beatitudes is to live a life of reckless, exuberant, self-abandonment to God and our neighbour. That’s called love. The only reason we can do that is because we know and trust ourselves to have already been blessed by God. We live the beatitudes as a response to God blessing us. That is the way of Christ. That is not only the way forward through this life, it is the way to life. If we are to follow Christ it must become our way.
As always, thoughtfully selected for us by Cathy York who has prepared all our Sunday reflections despite the impression the website has given by attributing them to John, who only posts them. This problem is now solved and we have a way of attributing them correctly.