THE MOUNT OF BEATITUDES
This Mount where Jesus preached his radical and revolutionary sermon, including the Beatitudes, is traditionally considered to be a mountain near Capernaum, up from the Sea of Galilee. Today it is our Place of the Heart, as Jesus’ message of love overturns our cultural, personal and usual ways of understanding what it means to be blessed and to be a blessing.
Light the Prophecy and Bethlehem Candles.
Matthew 5:5-11, 43-45, 48 (NRSV)
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.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What a gift of love these words of Jesus must have been for the people of his time! The people who were lowly, poor, or oppressed were encouraged and blessed. The people who held power and riches were admonished and taught. His words are a counter-cultural gift of love even for us today. In his words, he offers hope for the hopeless, comfort for the grieving, purpose for the persecuted, and encouragement for the faithful.
In this Place of the Heart, Jesus stretches us to extreme love: to think beyond the norm, to live beyond our culture, to trust beyond our comfort, and to obey beyond our feelings.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for showing us a better way to live and serve and love. Keep perfecting us, always. Amen.