Contrasting Beatitudes

On. Off.
—-Hot. Cold.
—-Life. Death. Darkness. Light.

As far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by opposites. I am captivated by contrasts.

Thus, I was both haunted and enchanted by two conflicting versions of the Beatitudes that I encoun- tered in my readings during the past two months.

Many of us are familiar, to some degree, with Jesus’ words as they are recorded in Matthew 5:1-11. Known also as “The Sermon on the Mount,” the Beatitudes begin with:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Beatitudes conclude, ten verses later, with:

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account, for your reward is great in heaven.

I offer two different renderings of the Beatitudes for your reflection and consideration.

The Devil’s Beatitudes

Blessed are those who are too busy or distracted or preoccupied to find sanctuary with God, for they are in my playground.

Blessed are those who nitpick the mannerisms of clergy or choir, for they are my soldiers.

Blessed are those who demand to be asked and who expect to be thanked, for I can use them.

Blessed are the temperamental who stop attending church, for they are my missionaries.

Blessed are those who claim to love God and who, at the same time, berate others, for they are mine forever.

Blessed are the incessant fault-finders, for they will be called my children.

Blessed are those who take no time to pray, for they are easy prey for me.

Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people and not about yourself, for… I’ ve…got…you.

(From 150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers by Jack McArdle)

*****

A Disciple’s Beatitudes

Blessed are the patient, for they will get tasks done and done well.

Blessed are the faithful, for they will be like safe anchors in a world of broken moorings.

Blessed are the honest, for they will be to society what yeast is to bread.

Blessed are the humble, for they will find rest for their souls.

Blessed are the generous, for they will keep alive our faith in the essential goodness of humankind.

Blessed are the caring, for they will shine out like beacons in a world darkened by indifference.

Blessed are the genuine, for they will glow like gems in a culture of falseness.

Blessed are you who do not give up hope, for you will see your visions take shape.

(From Windows on the Gospel: Stories and Reflections by Flor McCarthy)

*****

These two adaptations of the original Beatitudes may well be summed up in this manner: “The Devil’s Beatitudes” are words of darkness. “The Disciple’s Beatitudes” are words of light.

Particularly in the month of November, we are often driven by contrasts.

We hurry up and we pause…in a season of thanksgiving.

We want to give and we want to receive…in a season of commitment.

We seek rest and we are restless…in a season of high expectations.

In this month of glaring contrasts, may we seek words, not of darkness, but of light. May we be people, not of darkness, but of light.

May we seek light and be people of light, not only in this month, but forevermore.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara