What was he thinking…the meek will inherit the land? We all know that it is the powerful who control the land, it is the powerful who decide who enters the land and who gets to stay. And the “peace-makers”…well they usually get run over by the armies! And what was he saying about the “poor in spirit”…theirs is the Kingdom of God? Wait a minute…I thought the Kingdom belonged to the righteous and those who followed the letter of the law?
Well the truth is that Jesus had a different take on the whole matter. The beatitudes name the ways in which peoples’ lives and wellbeing are threatened: grinding poverty, grief, landlessness, hunger, war and persecution.
Jesus does not advise that those so afflicted simply wait for a reversal of fortune in the here-after, though the final verse does speak of a great reward in heaven.
Jesus calls for attitudes and actions that will more fully bring about the reign of God. The poor in spirit are the humble whose wealth is found in God and not in gold…their wealth is to be shared with the materially poor. The meek are not to be “shrinking violets” who accept injustice, but rather, those who know their proper place as children of God, and who stand up to insure that all people are treated with dignity and as full heirs to God’s reign.
The beatitudes are really “Be - Attitudes”…they call us to holiness through reaching out to all who suffer in this world, and promise us that to the extent that we reach out to and work on behalf of the suffering we will become more fully the “blessed of God” and help to build up the Reign of God!
As we take time this week to reflect on this Gospel let’s focus on one or more of the beatitudes and ask ourselves: In what concrete ways will I live out the “Be – Attitudes” today?