Living the Gospel Message of the Beatitudes

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If you’ve been to Rockefeller Center in NYC and visited the RCA building you may have noticed the huge murals depicting man’s progress in the mastery of nature. They show man working with the lever, hammers, mallet, chisel and the stages of industry and commerce. Amid these many pictures of mankind achievements stands one mural which at first glance seems out of place. “It is a representation of Christ teaching on the Mount. A heroic figure in white, with his hands outstretched in blessing. He addresses a multitude of people of every race, class and condition the poor, sick, maimed, the rich who are standing or sitting on the slopes and at the foot of the mountain. Some are listening intently, others are conversing with their companions or looking away in other directions, paying no attention. Alongside the mural is this legend: Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on whether he can learn new lessons, or make new discoveries and conquests, but on his acceptance of the lesson taught to him close on to two thousand years ago.” Frank Brangwyn, 1933. And what was this lesson taught more than two thousand years ago?

The Sermon on the Mount which has been called the Greatest Sermon Ever Preached.

And what does it mean to really accept this message?

To live the gospel message of the Beatitudes. And how do we do that today?…

…perhaps Fr. Jerry’s recent Facebook message clarifies that.

  • “This week, if you do something for someone else for no other reason than to bring joy to their lives, blessed are you.
  • If you find yourself feeling the loss of a friend or loved one or relationship, and in missing them (it), you realize that you experienced the love of God in their love for you, blessed are you.
  • This week, if you put yourself second for the needs of another, blessed are you.
  • If you do the “right” thing when the conventional wisdom is to do the “smart” thing, blessed are you.
  • This week, if you forgive someone or if someone forgives you, blessed are you.
  • Sometime in the next few days, if you stop, unplug and spend even just a moment thinking about all the good in your life and find yourself embraced by a sense of gratitude, blessed are you.
  • This week, if you can diffuse someone’s anger, if you can bridge the chasm between you and another, if you bring a positive perspective to an otherwise negative situation, blessed are you.
  • If you risk being laughed at or misunderstood or if you endure a “funny look” from someone because you took a stand based on what was morally and ethically sound and right, blessed are you.

You have reason to be glad. In the blessings you give, you have been blessed.

It struck me yet again, yes, even in my sojourn to the south, that to be a people of the Beatitudes is to embrace the spirit of humility that begins with valuing life as a gift from God, a gift we have received only through God’s mysterious love, not through anything we have done to deserve it.

I am reminded again in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus calls all who would aspire to discipleship to live the “blessedness” of the Sermon on the Mount: that is. to embrace a spirit of humble gratitude before the One who gives, nurtures and sustains our lives and to respond to such unfathomable love the only way we can….and that is by returning that love to others, as a way of returning it to God.”

Peg Orzel