The beatitudes or blessings spoken by Jesus during his famous Sermon on the Mount. (The Gospel according to Matthew, 5:1-12, as translated by Ron Miller. Still true for us today!
When Jesus saw the crowds he walked up a hill and sat down, and his disciples came to him. He spoke these words to teach them:
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 obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their righteousness: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men insult you and persecute you and slander you because of me. Rejoice, and be glad: for great is your reward in heaven: because they did the same things to the prophets who have come before you.
"Blessed are" is a passive phrase, and is not considered to be good use of English (by some). For instance, "Blessed are the poor" does not tell us who the poor are, but rather what is done to the poor (they are blessed). The Hebrews of Jesus' time did not like to refer to God by name, but they clearly understood this to mean "God will certainly bless the poor and give them the kingdom of heaven". Assuming that we want these things, like heaven, the earth, mercy and comfort, these sayings are very important.
Jesus describes a blessed character which is in strong contrast to the Macho Man or Strong Willed Woman of today. Poor in spirit speaks of humility instead of pride. The mourning simply means we regret our errors or sins, admit them, and move on. We do not believe we are perfect! The meek, who have a submissive attitude towards God (He is after all greater than we are) will inherit the earth. An active interest in God and following Him (hunger and thirst for righteousness) is also important.
Other character traits, not seen in our TV stars too often, are mercy towards others (compassion, understanding) and PURITY OF HEART (a clean conscience). The hero of Jesus is not a karate champ or a great warrior, but a peacemaker. Rather than fighting and winning for one side, he brings two sides together in a peaceful compromise.
Finally, those non-conformists, who stick out in our society because they actually try to live like this, must expect to be made fun of. Their ideas may be ridiculed, and rather than respect, some will treat them with contempt. No matter! This is the path the Saints have walked and we may be in their company.
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