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Matthew 5:1-12

The Word of God

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.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:1-12
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • In this Gospel reading Jesus lists the attitudes to life that will make us truly happy. They elaborate on what Jesus asks us to learn from him when he says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. In essence he wants us to face two realities, one is that we are limited and sinful and the other is that we are by nature very gifted, and most of all that we share in the divine life. He asks us to accept the first and to appreciate the second.
    • For a period of prayer spend time in Jesus’ presence and let him accept a side of yourself that you are not content with. Then let him appreciate something about you and tell him how you feel about this.
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    • These verses from scripture are called The Beatitudes. To live or be with these attitudes is a gift from God and they are a summary of the full Christian life. The life of Jesus is the fulfilment of all of them.
    • Pick out scenes in his life where Jesus portrays the beatitudes in his attitude to living and sharing with others. Maybe you could find times in your own life when he had some of these attitudes in dealing with you, for example mercy.
    • Notice how often this gospel is read at both funerals and weddings. Reflect on why this is the case.
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    • Like the second Moses, Jesus goes up the mountain to give his new Law. It is a law of the heart, based not on fear or prohibitions, but on a heart wide open, ready to embrace the paradoxes of life, and live it to the full. It is based on a call to happiness and blessedness. I can best understand the Beatitudes by contemplating Jesus and the way he lived, openly and courageously.
    • The Beatitudes always strike a chord deep in my heart. Today I will stay with the one which speaks to me most, either because I feel called to that particular attitude or because it represents my present struggle. I ask Jesus for his blessing, and for the grace that I might be a blessing to others.
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    • Why read the Beatitudes on the Feast of All Saints? Because they get to the heart of holiness. They express the values to which Christians are called at their baptism. When we meet someone whose life expresses these values we recognise a saint.
    • Note that the word Beatitudes means blessings. These are not commandments to be obeyed but blessings to be sought. Is there any one in particular you would like to have? Pray for it today.
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    • Often compared with the Ten Commandments the Beatitudes are something quite different - they are blessings or gifts offered by God. They are not to be "observed" as commandments are, but desired and nurtured in prayer. It is in prayer that their strangely paradoxical meanings reveal themselves. So ponder them slowly and see if they resonate with your own life experiences. Do you have a favourite among the Beatitudes, one that touches you deeply?
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    • Today’s feast includes all the saints who were never canonised, the mothers and fathers who stayed faithful to one another and their families, the single women and men who did good unseen, those who found God through the pain they endured, all those we loved and thought much of, who would never have thought of themselves as holy but whose goodness was clear to those close to them. Do I belong there?
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    • The Beatitudes reveal to me what Jesus values in a life of discipleship; they show to me what Jesus looks for and praises. With Jesus, I review my own life and attitudes. I see where I am blessed already – even if what Jesus sees is not what I might look for.
    • I might choose two of these beatitudes to be a backdrop to my prayer and reflection today: one that affirms me and one that calls me further.
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    • Today, and always, Jesus is ‘sitting down’ in the Sacred Space of my heart. I listen to him and his words of life. Which Beatitude do I find most affirming? Which gives me most encouragement for my life journey right now?
    • Which of these Beatitudes challenges me the most? Whichever one I feel drawn to indicates my next step forward in my life’s journey.
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    • Four times we are told that those who appear to be the most unfortunate in this world are actually the ones who are blessed by God. God will right the wrongs they suffer and bring them justice. This turns all worldly values upside down. Have I yet experienced the upturning of my worldly values?
    • Those who are poor or suffering may have given up on God. God never seems to answer their prayer. But Jesus asserts that God has not given up on them, and that the kingdom of God is theirs. When I suffer in trying to act rightly, I can allow the Good News of the Beatitudes to comfort me.
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    • Imagine you are sitting on the hillside listening to Jesus, which of the Beatitudes affects you most?
    • Jesus, help us to listen to you with our hearts as well as our ears and help us to come alive to your word, to your teaching, to your desire to draw us ever closer to you.
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    • The Incarnation is a powerful mission statement by God. Jesus follows it by announcing his own goals in the Beatitudes: we are blessed through the goodness of God and we need a divine perspective in life. The Beatitudes as a mission statement are prophetic rather than profit-based. They speak of freedom and selflessness, not of worldly success, as the way to happiness.
    • The Beatitudes touch into paradox, indicating that we find life where we might least expect to find it. They can be understood rightly in the life and example of Jesus, who lived simply, showed mercy and compassion, hungered for the Father’s will. We who share his life are called to proclaim his Gospel message.
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    • Jesus offers his Oscars, his commendations. Think of the affirmation that Jesus gives to what is fragile, weak and overlooked in the eyes of the world. I hear him say, 'Well done' to me for how I have lived in his spirit.
    • I might choose two of these beatitudes to be a backdrop to my prayer and reflection today: one that affirms me and one that calls me further.
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    • Can I sit before Jesus and listen to him, as if I had never heard these beatitudes before? What effect do they have on my heart? Joy, tears, confusion, longing?
    • Where do I fit in the beatitudes? Perhaps there is something especially difficult going on in my life right now, such as sickness, or the challenge to be a good carer, or loss of faith and hope. I ask Jesus to make my difficulty into a blessing.