The Beatitudes, arguablly one of the most influencial parts of the new testament. I’ll start this week’s post out by saying that I dislike the spelling of the ‘beatitudes.’ Everything I know about the english language (which isn’t much) tells me that it should be spelled “be attitudes.’ Ah, I digress.
The sermon, given by Christ, occurs in the four gospels. For our purposes here today I will be speaking of the account by Matthew. The savior references a specific word several times–the word ‘blessed.’ I am going to attempt to compare the word ‘blessed’ to the word ‘blessedness’, and by so doing illustrate what I have learned in my studies of this section of the New Testament.
The sermon is introduced by a series of statements made by the Savior each beginning with the word “blessed.” President Lee would suggest that being “blessed” denotes a higher state of happiness. Using that definition we will assume each of us weeks to be blessed. The word blessedness, could then mean the action of getting or receiving blessings. A footnote to verse three of chapter 5 identifies the following:
The Latin beatus is the basis of the English “beatitude,” meaning “to be fortunate,” “to be happy,” or “to be blessed.”
Each of those adjectives outline common life long aspirations of any average human being. We can note then, that Christ is telling us in each of these ‘beatitudes’ that if we subscribe to them, we too might obtain a happiness. Many times in the scriptures we can read things for face value. “Thou shalt not…” is a pretty explicit statement–not a lot of gray area. To see the deeper sense of what Christ was teaching is a very intriguing thought for me.
I’m going to outline a few of my favorite beatitudes and highlight some things that stood out to me.
- Verse five: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Every time I read this particular beatitude I am remineded of the story of Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. The Savior finds Mary and Martha grieving over the loss of their loved brother. The testimony of these women is evident, as they swear to Christ “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” The truly believed that had Christ been there, that by some spiritual mechanism, Lazarus would not have died.
Prior to this, the New Testament is rich with stories of Christ healing and performing miracles. I sometimes wonder why Christ didn’t just bring him back to life in an instant. Christ then does something so remarkable, I almost have a hard time understanding it. He wept. Jesus Christ, Lord of all that is imaginable, wept. In a very real and sincere way, he validated Mary and Martha’s feelings of sorrow and grief by weeping with them. He took an opportunity to show compassion and sympathy to these two stalwart sisters. The shear beauty of this short story nearly brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.
- “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” I almost wonder if Christ wasn’t negating the “tooth for a tooth” doctrine we learn about in the Old Testament. He gives, as far as I can tell, the opposing viewpoint to that opinion. Mercy shall be ours, as we give mercy. A very simple, yet inspiring thought.
- The final beatitude i’ll comment on is the one we find in verse nine; “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” I was once a paid peacemaker. I worked as a police officer in my hometown. Working in that capacity I was often called to a situation to be a common judge, and to make or keep peace. It offered some unique insight into that process. First, to create peace, it’s implied that the opposite of peace is present. The dictionary identifies ‘noise’ as an antonym of ‘peace.’ Many a time, as a police officer, I encountered ‘noise’ in all it’s forms. Thinking of how Christ had intended us to understand this doctrine brings me to think of the rest of the beatitudes. His whole lesson here centers around charity and helping others- and as a result it will come back in our favor. I think that is perhaps the secret to peace; to help others before thinking of ourselves. Oh how the world could be a different place if everyone thought this way.