Looking out over the American landscape the last couple of weeks leaves me with a disheartened view of our human condition. Jesus died and rose from the dead to make us partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4). What must our Heavenly Father think as he looks upon His creation and sees the venom being spewed forth on all sides—vicious serpents reaching out to strike their brothers and sisters with a poison intended to debilitate, maim or sour the other’s life without ending it—leaving the other with a living death. Lord have mercy on us!
It’s easy to point the finger. On the one hand we have a new leader who seems to respect no one and is capable of dehumanizing anyone, including the very manhood he purports to represent. On the other hand women in large numbers gather with over-the-top anger and foul language that disfigures their very life-giving dignity and serves only to widen the chasm of dissent. All of this is counter to the beatitudes in today’s Gospel.
Who are the poor in spirit, the ones who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness or the meek? Is Jesus referring to me? Poor in spirit refers to the humble, who have a healthy fear of the Lord. To mourn and to hunger and thirst for righteousness is to recognize the injustices of the world. Meekness is not weakness. To be meek is to have a strong, quiet, godly inner strength that exhibits itself when necessary. Maybe I can identify with these but Jesus’ next beatitudes are most challenging.
Who are the merciful, the clean of heart and the peacemakers? If I am full of hate and venom for others how can my heart be clean and merciful? If I constantly judge, criticize and condemn how can I possibly be an agent for peace? When my brothers and I would fight, my dad would remind us that it takes two to tangle but only one to end it. We need peacemakers: women and men with clean hearts who can douse the angry flames of rhetoric with mercy. This is the hard part because Jesus does not address His discourse to others. He points the finger directly at you and me.