Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Beatitudes: Part 2

Quick Review
The word translated as “Blessed” with which each Beatitudes begans, seems to be a promise of things to come. But, as I said last post, the word is better translated as “O the bliss...”  Bliss is a word that properly belongs only to the gods. Yet, Jesus is stating that it is his followers’ now. As William Barclay says, “...The Beatitudes are not promises of future happiness...they are affirmations of the bliss into which the Christian can enter here and now.”

Today’s Beatitude: The Sorrowing

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matt. 5:4

It may be this Beatitude is meant to be taken literally. There is a Arabic saying, “All sunshine makes a desert.” The composer Elgar once said, upon listening to a young woman with a beautiful voice and faultless technique, “She will be great when something happens to break her heart.” When I have been at a nadir in life, it was there I learned who my friends were and who loved me. So in this sense, sorrow has it’s own blessing to bring.

But, there is another possibility. O the bliss of the person who is moved to bitter sorrow at the realization of his/her own sin for they shall be encouraged and comforted. We often forget that the way to the fullness of a relationship with God is the realization that we aren’t worthy of the love that God gives us. Grace, as we say, is unmerited love. New life, in every sense, begins with the an awareness of dissatisfaction with life as it is.
Some years ago, seeing myself in a photograph, I realized I was dramatically overweight. I didn’t like the way I looked, nor the way I felt. My diabetes was hard to control. I decided at that moment I wouldn’t continue on the path that led to the many extra pounds and that I would turn my life in a new direction. And I did. This process is the same one that addicts face if they are to begin moving toward sobriety. They come to the sad and sorrowful realization they are out of control and need the help of a Higher Power.

In a very real sense, we are talking about penitence. But, this Beatitude doesn’t stop there. If we were to truly to come face to face with the depth our own sinfulness and our lack of merit before God, we might feel crushed and hopeless. This Beatitude says, “No.” The awareness of how far short we have fallen of acting like citizens of the Kingdom of God brings comfort. The Greek word here parakalein means comfort or console, but that is the rarest of it meanings. It also is the word used to call someone to become an ally, a helper, a counselor. It is also the word used to invite someone to a banquet. Quoting Barclay again, “God does not only accept and receive the sinner back again. He treats him, not as a criminal, but as an honoured guest.”

The word means even more. It also means to extort or to encourage. So the awareness of our sin, not only promotes forgiveness and joy, but we become filled with courage. Our minds are stimulated to new thoughts and new understanding. Though Andrew Lloyd Webber didn’t intend the description of love in his song Love Changes Everything to refer to God, it clearly has a deep theologial meaning. Think of God love for us as you read the lyrics.

Love changes everything:
Hands and faces,
Earth and sky,
Love changes everything:
How you live and
How you die

Yes, Love,
Love changes everything:
Now I tremble
At your name.
Nothing in the 
World will ever 
Be the same

Will turn your world around,
And that world
Will last for ever.

Yes, Love,
Love changes everything,
Brings you glory,
Brings you shame.
Nothing in the
World will ever
Be the same.

Peace, Jerry+

1 comment:

  1. Only Jerry can bring Broadway together with the Beatitudes. Nice work!