Beyond Compare, Pt. 4
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. And after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“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.”
Name them. Honor them. And let them be. Therein lies the only real promise of hope. Don’t miss that beatitude truth. The named circumstances—those that are honored with space—the realities that are allowed to exist beyond comparison are all promised the hope of change.
The poor in spirit will receive the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn will be comforted. The meek, the persecuted, the reviled will inherit the earth and receive the kingdom of heaven. Those longing for righteousness and justice will get it. The merciful will receive mercy. The pure in heart will see God. The peacemakers will be called children of God.
Anyone who finds themselves described in these beatitudes is assured that there is more to their current state of mind or heart or spirit than they can presently behold. Each named and honored circumstance carries the hope of transformation. Every post-conventional reality bears the promise that a change is gonna come. The pain will not endure. The suffering will not be wasted. This present darkness can yield to light. This death can birth new life. That kind of hope is post-conventional. It’s resurrectional and it’s hard-earned. It’s the kind of hope that only comes when we name our crosses, honor our deaths, and let our tombs be tombs. There’s no shortcut to this kind of hope. It comes from being present to the pain—from letting suffering do the work that it has to do—and that is really hard.
But here’s the good news of the beatitudes: we are blessed.
Blessed is the very word with which this poem begins. Blessedness pulses throughout these beatitudes as a repetitive mantra, proclaiming who we truly are. These beatitudes are not aspirational statements. These verses are statements of solidarity! They’re not saying we are blessed because we are poor in spirit. They’re saying we are blessed even when we are poor in spirit. They’re declaring that while the heartbreak of our circumstances may place us beyond convention, beyond words, and beyond comparative spaces, we never get beyond our identity as bless-ed.
We never get beyond God.
There’s nowhere we can go—no reality of pain and suffering into which we wander or are led—that places us outside the love and acceptance and blessing of the God who is with us. If you are poor in spirit, grieving, or depressed, you are not alone. If you are persecuted or oppressed, you are not forsaken. If you are absorbing violence or offense, you are not somewhere that God is not.
You are blessed.
And not just from on high. We’re not just blessed by a disembodied sky-god that sits on a cloud, looks at us lovingly from afar, and sends us positive thoughts. Our blessed identity is declared by the dirt, and sweat, and tears, and blood of One who embodied, lived, and died every beatitude.
One who has been poor in spirit One who has been meek One who experientially knows grief and persecution One who absorbed violence in the name of peace and persecution in the name of mercy One who knows you—loves you—holds you The same One to whom this post-conventional poem belongs One who is with you—who is within you saying, “Remember who you are—who you have always been.” You are blessed.
What could possibly compare to that?
A Re-Writing of the Beatitudes:
Bless-ed are those feeling the isolation and depression of quarantine,
for theirs is the realm of the Eternal.
Bless-ed are the ones who have lost a loved one to COVID-19,
for they will be comforted.
Bless-ed are the hungry, the homeless, and those who have lost their jobs,
for they will inherit the earth.
Bless-ed are our sisters and brothers of color screaming for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
Bless-ed are those who take-in offense and give away mercy,
for they will receive more than they give away.
Bless-ed are our pure-hearted first responders and front-line workers,
for they will see the Eternal.
Bless-ed are those who absorb violence and attack to make peace,
for they will be called children of God.
Bless-ed are those who face the fear and uncertainty of ceaseless change,
for theirs is the realm of the Eternal.
Bless-ed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against of you because you carry the love of the Christ.
Rejoice in remembering that you walk the well-worn path of prophets and peace and that you do not walk alone.
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