“Remember, if death is not to have the last word, it is because in life we learned to die for one another.”
I’ve always loved the Beatitudes, though admittedly I also have never really read them that closely. So Wednesday, when my men’s group broke open this Sunday’s Gospel, I was ready for a great conversation. Heavy on many of our minds was the state of our nation and, more broadly, a world that just seems to be more broken than usual. We began to go through each one, starting with "poor in Spirit," and diving into the importance of being solely dependent on God. We were about to gloss over "blessed are those who mourn," given its perceived straightforwardness. However, one guy asked, "Why is that one second? Maybe there is more there we aren’t realizing." This simple question led to a great conversation when one of the other men shared the commentary notes from the Bible he uses, which stated that specific Beatitude means, "beyond personal loss, mourning the world’s brokenness and sin."
As we read on through the list, "thirsting for righteousness, being peacemakers, enduring persecution," it struck me how important it is in difficult situations to begin my approach with sadness, a recognition of the lack of wholeness, an acknowledgement of loss or, in some cases, the lost. In fact, the rest of the Beatitudes seem to presume it. Can I really be a peacemaker or be merciful if my heart doesn’t ache for the discord that exists or the sins that I or others choose? How often in my quest for righteous victory do I forget the casualties of the battle? My parish has been offering adoration and night prayer in this week leading up to our election. For the first time in my life, I didn’t pray for a certain outcome. I brought the list of all the candidates and for each one, on both sides, for every elected post, I prayed for them as people. I prayed for their spouses, their children, their health, their choices, their flaws, their strengths, their leadership. I prayed for their conversion in the way the Lord aches for them to be made whole, not in the way Dan Cellucci may want. It was the first time, in a long time, I sat in peace in 2020. Let’s be sure as we approach this important week in our country that we keep these Beatitudes close and realize they aren’t a menu but a recipe for Christ’s Kingdom to reign yesterday, today, and always.