Note: November 1, All Saints’ Day, according to the calendar of Western Christendom, is that day of celebration of all the saints (“saint” being a New Testament appellation for the Christian); the followers of Jesus, past, present, and yet to come. In many church lectionaries, one of the appointed biblical texts is the Beatitudes.
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” (Matthew 5.1-11).
And, in so saying, Jesus overturned every worldly notion not only of what it is to be blessed, happy, but also what it is to be faithful, successful. For the Beatitudes are not prescriptions of what to do, but rather descriptions of how to be; how to live life in this world. A world, since the loss of the Garden of Eden, that has fallen and continues to fall far short of the dream of God at the dawn of creation.
Not that I can (or even dare think that I can) improve on Jesus’ teaching, considering this world in which we live and contemplating my life, that is, how I strive to live my life, as my All Saints’ Day meditation, I wrote and now share my personal beatitudes.
Blessed am I when I recognize my need, my dependence on all creation and all humankind and, therefore, perceive earth as fragile and the world a global village deserving, demanding my care and compassion.
Blessed am I when my love and justice, my kindness and fairness are unfettered and, therefore, freely offered to all.
Blessed am I when I do not prejudge another because of culture, class, creed, or color, sex or sexual identity and, therefore, I, by my preferences or prejudices, do not raise or reduce my estimation of any individual because of one or more characteristics, however naturally human.
Blessed am I when I forgive others and myself when we, acting out of hurt, fear, and anger, do harm to others and ourselves.
Blessed am I, when amid conflict, I behold all sides of an argument, and then, for the sake of all, seek to interpret and translate all facets of the dispute so to promote mutual understanding.
What are your beatitudes; your descriptions of what it is for you to be blessed, happy and how you live faithfully, successfully?
Illustration: The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886), James Tissot (1836-1902)