Category Archives: Christ
I’ve always been a bit confused by the Beatitudes. You know, the “blessed are you” passages… Honestly, I don’t feel “blessed” at all when my spirit is lacking, I mourn, am grossly overmatched or suffering an injustice. Rarely do I find showing mercy, pure-heartedness, peace-making or persecution to be calm, peace-filled endeavors.
Okay, so you say, but they point us to a future where we will be blessed — as kingdom-dwellers. There we’ll be comfortable heirs, contented to experience mercy, see God, and be received as children. Perhaps true, but still confounding to me, because Jesus always struck me as a present tense kind of guy; not just a wait-it-out-and-you-will-see kind of guy. After all, future promises ring pretty hollow when our today is so gnarly.
So, I was delighted to read another take on the “Blessed are you’s,” described in today’s Richard Rohr’s Contemplation and Action newsletter and quoted from Elias Chacour’s book We Belong to the Land. Chacour suggests that the verb traditionally translated as “blessed are you” from the Aramaic is more accurately, Get up, go ahead, do something, move. You who are feeling low or worn out, move into the Kingdom that’s here now. See it! Hear it! Feel it! Claim it!
Now THAT sounds more like Jesus, to me. So let’s rewrite those beatitudes.
Matthew 5 tells us, “when Jesus saw the crowds (he had been healing from every disease and sickness), he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”
When He said:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are poor in spirit because I am here to fill even the hollow places with spirit-wholeness.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are in mourning because I bring hope and a new day.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, because I will use your meekness to bring down even the mightiest strongmen.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who seek justice, for in your seeking you will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who offer mercy, my grace and mercy will rain down upon you.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are pure in heart, for there you will see me.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who work for peace for there I will be among you.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move and keep moving, you who are beaten down and even killed, for today you will be with me in paradise.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are vilified because of me, for I will stand with you when you defend my name.
In your going and doing, “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”
A dear friend received a new heart today. Literally
Not a Valentine’s Day heart. Not a sappy, sentimental heart-shaped gift. Neither construction paper cut-out nor “heart”-shaped facsimile, the heart he received was an organ. A life-saving, life-giving organ. This heart is a living, pumping cardiac-muscle of a heart. Sewn into the opening left when they extracted his old heart that wasn’t working well, really it was failing, not strong enough to pump life support to his body that was still young and strong and virile.
Yes, today God replaced his old heart of (nearly) stone with a heart of flesh, and it is beating in his chest right now. Receiving blood, pumping blood, delivering blood continuously, obediently, constantly to all the places in his body that were desperate for it.
Just twenty-four hours ago, this heart was perfectly happy to beat in someone else’s chest. To receive, pump and deliver blood there. What of this? What of these? What of him?
Why must someone die so another might live?
I cannot fathom this. Cannot explain this. Certainly cannot condone this. Yet.
Yet, one man of old did just such a thing. Died, giving Himself up for us. This is my body, for you. This is my blood, for you. This, I will give you. This is what you need. This will give you life.
Day by day, we’re offered a new heart, signed by God. A heart offered without price, save what was paid on the cross.
There for us when we need it. Before we know we need it.
This is no Valentine’s cut-out and no slobbering sentimentality. This is God’s own heart, work horse of our effort, unsung hero of our inner workings, grinding out our days supplying the lifeforce of our very being.
Day in and day out.
Awake and Asleep.
Conscious and unconscious.
So reliable, we don’t even remember it in our prayers.
So trustworthy, we don’t even think to question its methods.
So diligent, we don’t even begin to doubt its lastingness.
Yet, sometimes when we cry out for a new heart, God complies. Our heart of stone is replaced by a heart of flesh, rock of ages past, usurped by flesh and blood. Gift given. Gift received.
And in gratitude, we pray: May the heart of Christ fill the space left behind. May the soul of Christ occupy this void. May the mind of Christ show the way to this generous spirit whose life ended too soon and yet. And yet.
There is life. And in its name, in His name, we rejoice.
The whole world comes alive when the sun rises. One by one, two by two they emerge from east, from west, from every way and every other way, whole flocks together as if a heavenly call has gone out and they're heeding its message. Is it the rays, the light, the glimmer that bids them come? the oranges, reds, the magenta that dazzles and displays? or something else I can't see, can't hear, can't comprehend? Is there a knowing I don't know? A joke I'm not in on? Ashore, I stand mired...heavy...earthen. the only unflighted one of morning. Astonished at their soaring, gliding, joyful shouting, "Here I am!" "Coming!" "Wait for me!" Guzzling the good, good news of morning. What a glorious day has come and is coming when we, weighted and terribly terrestrial loosen our ties and shed the lashing pinning our wings. And, with the rest, come alive in the new day.