44. The ten beatitudes :
44. T H E T E N B E A T I T U D E S
Mount Tabor - probable site of the sermon of the Beatitudes
Beatitude 1 :
you shall be filled (Luke 6 v 21)
Extract from the letter of the disciple James to the first Christians (Ch.2, v.5-7)
'Listen, dear brothers. Did God not choose those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom he promised to those who love him.' Yet you, the rich, degrade the poor, you oppress them and drag them before the courts.
'My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it?' (v.14)
'If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has not eaten all day, and you say to them:
- Go in peace,! Keep warm and well fed but do not meet their BODILY NEEDS, what good is that?
'So it is with faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly useless.'. As a lifeless body is dead, so faith without works is dead.
This is confirmed by John in his 1st epistle, Ch.3, v.17:
'I ask you how can God's love survive in a man who has enough of this world's goods yet closes his heart to his brother when he sees him in need?Little children, let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it'.
The heartless rich man and Lazarus the poor man :
Luke 16 v 19
'Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and linen and feasted splendidly every day. At his gate lay a beggar named Lazarus who was covered with sores. Lazarus longed to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. The dogs even came and licked his sores. Eventually the beggar died and was carried by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man likewise died and was buried.
From the abode of the dead where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus resting in his bosom. He called out "Father Abraham, have pity on me, send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh my tongue, for I am tortured in these flames".
- "My child" replied Abraham, remember that you were well off in your lifetime while Lazarus was in misery. Now he has found consolation here, but you have found torment, and there is a great abyss between you and him that no one can bridge.'
Then the rich man said:
- 'Father, I ask you, then, send him to my father's house where I have five brothers. Let him be a warning to them so they may not end in this place of torment!'
And Abraham replied:
- 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them! If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if one should rise from the dead' "
A beggar is dying of hunger. He knocks on a door and they put they dogs on him while inside is great feasting, death passes by and takes with him the beggar, which is a deliverance, and the rich man without pity who will now pay for the hardness of his heart. For an instant Jesus raises for us a corner of the veil. For a few seconds he reveals to us the other side of the mirror.
Is it by coincidence that the man who entered Abraham's paradise was named Lazarus?
The same name as that of his friend from Bethany whom Jesus resurrected several days after his death, a fact which did not! changed the attitude of the Jews of Jerusalem who, though they had seen the resurrection of Lazarus, nevertheless had Jesus executed for fear that the people who, awed by his miracles, might follow him and abandon them.
Luke Ch.5, v.25. 'Woe to you who are full; you shall go hungry.'
AND TODAY ?
That was twenty centuries ago. Everything has changed and mankind has evolved. Apart from some factual details like a world population of nearly six billion people, out of which 1.3 billion live below the poverty level in total destitution on less than a dollar a day.
Just fifty years ago the world was horrified to discover the death camps and see unforgettable images of horror. Half-naked bodies, walking skeletons, grotesque and terror-stricken beings, stripped, abused, ill-treated, oppressed, beaten and left to slowly die of hunger.
Imprisoned, pillaged, raped, tortured, gassed, and finally reduced to cinders They had no strength left to complain. They endured everything in the course of an endless Calvary.
What crimes had they committed to be so punished?
They were Jews, Poles, and Gypsies. Their destiny was to be subject to hatred and the lowest forms of vicious loathing.
For several years men, women and children saw their families dispersed. Their clothes, their possessions, their hair and even their teeth torn from them. They knew hell on earth and death came as a deliverance.
One would like to believe that 'this was an exception', that man has learned the lessons of the past but unfortunately this is NOT SO. The savage instinct to possess and destroy remains unabated.
Be it in Asia, in South America, in Africa, in the burning desert or in the mountains of the Far East, people like us die slowly each day of hunger. Have you SEEN these little withered bodies holding out to you hands with hooked fingers which can no longer grip? These toothless wraiths with swollen bellies.
It is hard to believe that this is our planet. Yet the irreparable loss goes on all around us while the world watches idly on T.V., between a sentimental sitcom and the ubiquitous publicity,as a young ebony skinned mother holds to her breast a tiny child who seeks in vain for a last drop of milk.
We are abysmally incompetent in our ability to do away with the causes of these tragedies. All we can do is either hide them or fuel them. But hope comes from on high.A voice on a Galilean mountain once said that "all who hunger will be filled".
'HOW BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT - (the charitable rich)
for the reign of God is theirs. (Matth.5 v 3)
Contrary to what may be thought Jesus is not speaking of the feeble minded, but of the rich who live in the spirit of poverty; that is to say those who are not attached to worldly goods and try to live a life of justice and truth.
This does not mean that they totally abstain from worldly goods but that they give priority in their management of them to the love of God and respect for those in need.
EXAMPLE : ZACCHAEUS
Yes, like Zacchaeus one can be at the same time rich and poor in spirit.
Luke Ch.19,. 'Jesus entering Jericho passed through the city. There was a rich man there named Zaccheaus the chief tax collector and a wealthy man. He was trying to see what Jesus was like but being of small stature he climbed a sycamore tree to see him pass through the crowd. When Jesus came to the spot he looked up and said:
- "Zacchaeus, hurry down, I MEAN TO stay at your house today".
It is rare that the Master praises a rich man, especially a stranger. Zaccheaus is CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR, head of the taxation services for the Jewish Tetrarch or for Pilate, the Roman Governor.
The Pharisees hated them and considered them impure 'collaborators' with whom simple contact could defile them.
But on that day providence had arranged a meeting with Jesus who said to his this man of small stature, "I mean to "
Jericho, a town populated mostly by foreigners, has a prestigious past going back more than 8.000 years to Herod the Great who built his immense main palace.
Jesus, who knew both the past and the present, surprised everyone by turning to a person whose very contact was proscribed by the Jews, called him by name, and, oh horrors, enter his house.
- "He has gone to a sinner's house as a guest'"
Bus Zacchaeus did not hear them, he advanced tremulously towards Jesus and said.
- "I give half my wealth, Lord, to the poor (few people can say as much ). If I defraud anyone in the I pay him back four-fold".
Jesus knew all this perfectly well but he wanted firstly to praise Zacchareus for his conduct and then to teach a lesson to the leaders of the Jewish people who were following him.
But Jesus went even further, he declared Zacchareus (this rich, generous and honest man) to also be a "son of Abraham" to the indignation of the high Jewish dignitaries.
- "Today salvation has come to this house, for this what it means to be son of Abraham."
Matthew, (author of one of the four Gospels), also a publican and a tax collector, had answered Jesus' call and invited him to come into his house to eat, an act criticized by the puritan orthodox Jews and the local gossips.
- "See, he sits down at table with publicans and sinners".
It is this same Matthew (ch 19 v 23), once time head of the taxation office of Capernaum, who was one day to record this strange saying of the Master:
- "I assure you, only with difficulty will a rich man enter into the kingdom of God",
then adds, as explanation to his astonished disciples:
- "For man it is impossible, but for God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE". The character of Zacchareus is an illustration of this exception.
- Come to the aid of your brother according to your means
- and lend to him when he is in need
- The wealthy man is guarantor for his neighbor
- Do not be ungrateful to those who have lent you a hand,
- pay your dues on time and
- do not forget the services of your guarantor.
'BLESSED are you who are (truly) POOR
FOR THE REIGN OF God is yours. (Luke 6 v 20)
A / The extremely poor
Many will never see them. We go on holiday to relax and forget under the palm trees on the sandy beaches. Rarely do people venture to the heart of the country where the sight of poverty close up puts them ill at ease.
And yet we know that this great poverty exists.
- Those who have no roof and sleep on the pavement
- Those who share overcrowded dwellings and rooms
- Those who have only a bowl of rice a day or, who, having nothing, fill their bellies with earth to give themselves and illusion of having eaten
It is an endless vicious circle. Some take advantage of the cheap labor of those who are so poor that they cannot refuse the work which, although they know they are being exploited, will enable them to give their families minimum sustenance.
B / The new poors
Our world changes. Here machines take over the jobs of hundreds, there one computerizes. For one person who remains employed machines replace ten others by simplifying the work, doing it more rapidly, more precisely and much more cheaply for they work non stop without holidays or the need for social security contributions.
All that is needed is to maintain the profit margins, and invest wisely in order to make high dividends. Meanwhile unemployment rises to epidemic proportions. Incomes alone have dropped while the cost of food, rents and most direct and indirect taxation have continually increased. Present figures report 18 million job seekers in Europe and 100 million in China.
Indifference gives place to solidarity whilst some, discouraged by a long and fruitless search, blame themselves and then sink into survival mode under the suspicious gaze of luckier neighbors and the reproach of the family.
To see with the heart:
- give help case by case, share out the public monies more efficiently and eliminate waste.
- give a roof to those who are homeless, and allow the young to start a family while there is s till time as the years pass and the tunnel gets longer.
C/ Charity in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament charity was one of God's laws, a pledge under the Law of Moses - so said the Eternal God:
Deuteronomy. Ch.15, v.11
'The needy will never be lacking in the land; that is why I COMMAND you
to open your hand to your poor and needy.'
Deuteronomy Ch.16, v 11: At the Feast of the Tabernacles and the Feast of Weeks:
'you shall make merry in his presence together with your servants, the
priest and even the stranger, the widow and the orphan who will be at table with you and your family'.
Deuteronomy Ch 23, v.20. "You shall not demand interest from your countrymen on a loan of money or food or anything else on which interest is usually demanded. You may demand interest from a foreigner but not from your countryman" (a man practicing the same religion).
What an example for many Christians and nations who think only of making the most of high interest rates in order to make money. YES these texts were already written in the time of Moses and similar texts existed in Egypt 4.700 years ago.
But God's word does not end there:
Leviticus Ch.19, v.9 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you glean the stray ears of grain'.
Deuteronomy Ch.24, v.20 'When you knock down the fruit of your olive trees, you shall not go over the branches a second time; let what remains be for the alien, the orphan and the widow'.
Deuteronomy Ch.23, v.25-26. 'When you go through your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat as many of his grapes as you wish, but do not put them in your basket.' 'When you go through your neighbor's grain field you may pluck some of the ears with your hand, but do not put a sickle to your neighbor's grain'.
Better still, every seventh - sabbatical - year the land rested . Every fiftieth - Jubilee - year all the lands, except those of the priests, were redistributed and all mortgages agreed between practicing Jews were annulled.
Leviticus Ch.19, v.34 'You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the native born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself'.
Proverbs Ch.14, v.31 'He who oppresses the poor blasphemes his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy glorifies him'.
- Ecclesiastes 4
- 'As water douses the flames charity remits sin.
- My son, do not refuse subsistence to the poor
- and do not cause the hungry to suffer.
- Be a father to the orphans and the widow.
- You will be AS A SON to the Most High who
- will love you more than did your MOTHER.'
D/ Charity in the New Testament
James Ch.1, v.27 'Looking after orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself unspotted by the world make for pure worship without stain before our God and Father'.
CHARITY. This commandment from God concerns the man who has received five talents and is responsible for the administration of the community's assets and who will, on the day of his death have to account to his Master. It also concerns the man who has received only one talent but does not have the right to bury it.
Luke Ch.12, v.33-34 'Get purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure with the Lord which no thief comes near not any moth destroy. Wherever your treasure lies, there your heart will be.'
St. Paul's hymn to charity
Paul's 1st letter to the Corinthians, Ch.13.
- 'If I speak with the tongues of men and angels.
- If I have the gift of prophesy, with full knowledge and comprehend all mysteries
- If I have faith enough to move mountains.
- If I hand over my body to be burned
- but have not love I gain nothing.
- Love is patient, love is kind,
- love is not jealous, it does not put on airs,
- love is honest, love is not self-seeking,
- it is not prone to anger,
- love does not brood over injuries,
- love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth.
- There is no limit to love's forbearance, to its trust, its hope its power to endure'.
- There are in the end three things that last; FAITH, HOPE and LOVE,
- and the greatest of these is LOVE.
- Love is eternal.
Paul outlines his thoughts in his second lettter to the Corinthians, Ch.8, v.13.
'The relief of others ought not to impoverish you, there should be a certain equality. Your plenty at the present time should supply their need so that their surplus may one day supply your need, with EQUALITY as a result'.
In Exodus, Ch.16, v.18, it is written 'He who had gathered a large amount did not have too much and he who had gathered a small amount did not have too little'.
1st letter of Peter, Ch.4, v.8 'Above all, let your love for one another be constant, for love covers (erases) a multitude of sins'.
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER JUSTICE
for they shall have their fill ( Matth.5 v 6 )
1. God's JUSTICE in the Old
The Bible gives simultaneously a history of religion with its version of the Creation and the political history of the Jewish people. Some scientists maintain that prophesy may be possible by vertical reading of the letters. There are many queries concerning its authorship, and the compilation of this book which is full of mysteries.
The Jewish people admit that God may have punished a whole community in order to punish one man for his immorality as in the case of Achaz who, having sacrificed children to idols, may have been the cause of three years of draught.
Or, as in the case of Solomon whose kingdom was split in two for having, over his lifetime, built two temples to the pagan gods of the foreign wives whom he had married to seal treaties with neighboring foreign kings.
One may wonder if a man who lives according to the laws of God is responsible for the misdeeds of his KING and must bear their consequences.
2. New Testament : The matter of the adulterous woman
John Ch. 8. 'Jesus was going from the Mount of Olives to the temple at Jerusalem, and had sat down to teach the people, when some scribes and pharisees brought him a woman 'taken in the act of adultery'.
Leviticus Ch.20, v.10 (and Deuteronomy Ch.22, v.22): If a man commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, they will both be put to death by stoning.'
For a long time the Jewish fundamentalists would have liked to show that Jesus, who flouted and bated them, disregarded the Law. This was a wonderful chance. They could well have simply satisfied their base instincts by stoning this poor creature with no further ado but they wanted to kill two birds with one stone.
If Jesus condemns the woman he can no longer preach love and forgiveness; if he has the woman freed he is declaring himself against the Law of Moses and in favour of sin.
We will never know if the woman's partner had already been executed but this blatant act gives them a chance to vent their lowest instincts on a beautiful young woman still too young to die.
Like a pack of wolves thirsty for blood, they dragged her with no process of law, to the temple courtyard where Jesus was in the habit of teaching. To humiliate her they tore her clothes and her head was bloodied by the many blows they had rained on her. They flung the poor woman down at the feet of Jesus where she lay sobbing without daring to raise her eyes.
- "Master", they said, with an air of false innocence, as they blatantly sought to justify their actions "this woman was caught in the act of adultery".
- MOSES in the LAW orders us to stone such women, but what do you say?
All the disciples, who were present, stand still and silent, and even the crowds of pilgrims to the temple falls silent. Everyone waits in silence to see how the man who preaches love will avoid the trap laid by the supporters of summary justice.
In this total silence, Jesus leans down and, with his finger, writes on the ground. After what seemed an interminable few moments he raises his head and looking straight into the eyes of the most violent leaders, said to them:
- 'Let he amongst you who is without sin throw the first stone'.
Then he leans down and continues to write on the ground, strange words which apparently neither the crowd nor the disciples understand but which have a radically calming effect on the most hot-headed.
Like Nathaniel (John l, Ch.1, v.45) who Jesus saw under the fig tree before meeting him, the Jewish fundamentalists learned to their cost that Jesus could knew their most intimate past.
This is when they realized that if certain hidden sins were revealed, this very same crowd they were manipulating in the name of justice, could also turn against them, whereas they had come to judge and not be judged.
As John the Evangelist explained they suddenly felt the weight of their consciences and withdrew one after the other, starting with the oldest. When one knows the determination of a crowd bent on lynching a culprit there is no better way of freeing him without directly threatening the leaders.
Jesus, with a wide sweep of his foot, erases the words written on the floor of the temple and then raised his eyes to the wretch who continued to weep and moan on the ground.
- "Woman, where are those who accused you?"
The Master knows that she does not care where the assassins who had wanted to kill her slowly and cruelly had gone. He knows that this woman who is in profound shock needs to hear a friendly, calming and reassuring voice.
When their eyes met a different tear from the others rolled down her cheek. The Master, is not seeking thanks but wants to hear two little words.
- Has anyone condemned you?
- NO MASTER
- I do not condemn you, go and sin no more.
We will never know the name of this woman but Luke (Ch.8, v.2) tells us that several women who had been cured of disease and evil spirits (prostitutes were often thought to be possessed by the demons of vice) followed Jesus from village to village proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
3. THE JUSTICE OF MAN
Man's justice is relative. It depends on the way the truth is seen and examined, as well as the liberality, sincerity and of the one who is rendering it. One does not 'give' justice but renders it to the injured party. And if the judge makes a mistake he may involuntarily commit further injustice.
Deuteronomy Ch.16, v.19 'You shall not distort justice and pay no attention to appearances. You shall not take a bribe for a bribe blinds the eyes even of the wise and twists the words even of the just.
Deuteronomy Ch.19, v.16 'If an unjust witness takes the stand against a man to accuse him of a defection from the law and if after thorough investigation the judges find that the witness is a false witness you shall do to him as he had planned to do to his kinsman. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst'.
In many democratic countries witnesses are obliged, when they make their depositions , to swear on the BIBLE to tell the truth and nothing but the truth
James, Ch.4, v.13:- 'You who say "Today or tomorrow we shall go and trade and come off with a profit". You have no idea what kind of life will be yours tomorrow. You are a vapor that appears briefly and vanishes.'
'As for you the rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted, your gold and silver have corroded and their corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire.
Here, crying aloud, are the wages you withheld from the farmhands who harvested your fields.
You have lived in wanton luxury on the earth. You fattened your livestock for the day of slaughter. You condemned, even killed, the just man; he did not resist you.'
Let this be a warning to the heartless who do not hesitate to crush the poor, the widows and the homeless, the unemployed who can no longer meet their obligations and pay the rent, for all must die and know that they cannot take anything with them into the next world where the most secret thoughts and actions will be revealed and judged.Take heed, therefore, of the justice of the Almighty.
'BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED FOR JUSTICE' SAKE
for the reign of God is theirs' (Matth.5 v 10)
To be persecuted for Justice' sake = to be persecuted by INJUSTICE
Andre Malraux said:
"The life of a man is worth nothing, but nothing is worth the life of a man".
This beatitude refers mainly to the victims of 'political injustice'. Those who are locked up in dark cells, tortured and denied their basic human right to live peacefully according to their political opinions.
Our history, the true facts of which cannot be denied, often shames us. We teach our children the dates of the great victories, whilst neglecting to mention their cost in human lives. Our history books rarely mention the occasions of our defeat and the scenes of unimaginable carnage left behind by these great battles.
We now learn with surprise that it is not Hitler who holds the record for genocide to date, but, for the moment, China.
The Walker report of 1971 to the Judiciary Committee of the American Senate announced stated that that between 32 and 62 million Chinese had died under the Mao Tse Tung regime between 1949 and 1969. Now we know why his little book was red.
A record has also come to light of deaths in the civil war, between 1851 and 1864, in the Ming dynasty, between the peasants and the Manchurian government troupes when 20 to 30 million people were killed in one uprising alone.
The figures, given in millions of dead were so colossal that even the official statistics refer merely to 'several million people massacred by 'diabolical fanatics'.
The late U.S.S.R.:
In Moscow in 1942 Stalin told Churchill that ten million prisoners in the goulags had been 'liquidated' for having refused to give up their property during land redistribution in their communities.
Hitler's final solution was the death camps where, according to figures which are still unconfirmed, 5 to 6 thousands of people may have been destroyed in a single day.
Chili and Argentina:
In Chili, ancestral homeland of the Inca, the people were once enslaved, exterminated and robbed of their reserves of gold. Argentina's present day dictators imprisoned their political enemies in sports stadiums where they could be watched, tortured and eliminated.
with its dungeons of the Islamic revolution.
where an entire population lives under the daily menace of a regime which, like the 13th century Arabian sect known as the Assassins, does the opposite of what it preaches and flouts the Commandments and LAWS WRITTEN IN THE KORAN.
with its wars which are no more than carnage between tribal groups, and where dictators do away with entire populations.
with Vietnam, its 'Khmer Rouges', its massacres and its boat people.
with the Napoleonic campaigns in the Middle East, Europe and Russia. Not so long before the last two world wars which killed millions, we systematically persecuted Jews, heretics, witches and foreigners many of whom were condemned by civil courts which, as in the Spanish INQUISITION had full power to torture and burn alive many innocent families.
- We persecuted the Manichaen, the Waldenses, the Bulgar and the Cathar whom the Cruisaders and the mercenaries burned alive, stealing their land, before putting out their eyes and mutilating them for their heresy.
- We persecuted the protestants massacred as they fell into the trap of Saint Bartholomew's Night (1572) when the Seine, red with blood, carried away the bodies of those who had been assassinated.
- Under the Reign of Terror we arrested and condemned priests and many innocents who were shot or beheaded.
If we were to expose to full daylight the hidden crimes of humanity the list would be too long and the witness too overwhelming. However it is often in the presence of such carnage that the necessity to change the spirit of man and his ways is felt, and an effort is made to reform the world and spread the message of peace and tolerance.
Fortunately many organizations have been created to help the civilian population of warring countries or to help the disadvantaged at times of human and natural catastrophe:
- - the International Red Cross
- - Medecins du Monde and Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders)
- - Amnesty International, Caritas, Emmaus and many others.
At a time when arms are being modernized at lightening and devastating speed, may God come to the aid of our poor humanity and spare innocent people from the Calvary of a modern war more deadly and demonic than any that has been waged until now.
'BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE SORROWING, they shall be consoled. (Matthew Ch.5, v.4)
'BLESSED ARE YOU WHO ARE WEEPING, you shall know joy.' (Luke Ch.6, v. 21)
THE SOURCE OF TEARS :
In the infant's tears are, in the absence of speech, a way of calling its mother, of chasing away strangers face, of showing it is sad, ill or tired.
In the child it is mostly a spontaneous emotion. It cries when it is hurt, when it is vexed, when it is punished or feels left out.
The adult cries more rarely. It is mistakenly considered that to cry is to show weakness, but even the hardest hearts give way under adversity.
THE FUNCTION OF TEARS :
Tears are an exterior sign of a tender soul, a proof of affection, a hope not to lose a loved one. Tears provide a physical relief from stress, and lower the heart rate.
Emotion is a reaction to a sudden, brutal and unexpected situation, which was neither desired nor foreseen. Tears mean drops of salt water, a strangled voice, taut muscles, and a tense face. They are the safety valve of a heart released from pressure.
An intolerable situation, a shock resulting from fear, the loss of a relative, a friend, a faithful pet, of something taken for granted and which fate, one day, takes from us, shattering our lives.
Tears are part of life, even if, more rarely, they are tears of joy. Tears makes you think of others.
They show love, when it is sincere. They are the proof that we shared in the joy or the pain and distress of those whom we love.
Jesus cried when he saw the vision of THE FUTURE OF JERUSALEM and all the disasters which were soon to befall this town and its poor innocent inhabitants. Jesus also cried when he saw the anguish of Mary weeping for her dead brother Lazarus who she thought she would never see again.
It is the same Master who, a few days before his death, said to the disciples:
'John Ch.14, v. l8 'I will not leave you orphaned; I will come back to you' and send you a COMFORTER. and (Ch.16,v.13) 'when he comes, being the spirit of truth he will guide you to all truth'.
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK FOR
THEY WILL INHERIT THE EARTH (Matthew Ch.5, v.5)
Meek: To be kind to the point of weakness, benevolent, mild, temperate, gentle and patient. The meek are conciliatory, non-violent and inoffensive. Their mild attitude is sometimes seen as a failing for is not kindness often mistaken for weakness?
This beatitude is somewhat mysterious as Jesus prophesy covers an indeterminate period in the life of our planet. He speaks of an 'inheritance' which would presuppose the death of a part of its population and its transmission to their survivors.
How good it would be to know that this earth will, one day to be populated by people who are living fully in the evangelical sense; by loving and sharing with one another in a golden age when men will have superceded its infantile and egotistical ME and, in a spirit of adult responsibility, prepare the best conditions possible for the life and development of their children and grand children.
Meanwhile the era of the meek is yet to come. The time is approaching when our mostly atheistic society will finally reach, through violence, that which it has never able to attain through reason.
Then, perhaps, the heirs to this NEW humanity, surfeited by the lust to destroy and kill, will finally build a new world and enter the era of Spirit and of Wisdom.
Mr. Von Ribeck. A kindly old man.In a little village lived a wise old man,
Who greatly loved children.
Near his house stood a pear tree
And when came the fall
The pears could be seen from afar,
Shining gold among the leaves,
Enticing as a laden dish of fruit.
All the village children came to look at them
And feast their eyes on the beautiful golden fruit.
In due season the old man,
Holding in his arms a great basket full of pears,
Would call them saying:
"Come my little ones. Who would like a lovely, tender, juicy pear?"
But the old man's health was failing.
He called his son to him, but was anxious
For he knew him to be miserly and rather heartless.
He gave him everything but made him promise that there
On his coffin, he would put a pear.
In early winter the old man was laid to rest.
The son shed no tears but kept his promise.
Then he had the tree cut down and sold the house.
For many years the grave lay forgotten.
No one noticed that among the tall grass
And the wild flowers - a tree had grown.
One day the tree blossomed
And then bore beautiful pears
Shining gold among the leaves.
And now, when children pass nearby
The wind is rustles in the leaves
And they could swear they hear a tremulous whisper saying:
"Come my little ones, who would like a lovely, tender, juicy pear?"
Is precious as gold,
Requires little effort
and gives comfort.
It shows affection,
To smile is to create.
A baby's smile
Is beautiful to see.
You who are older
Do not remain indifferent.
Show your dimples
And see the effect you have.
Your face lights up.
You are in another world.
A ray of light.
When it rains on the earth
And everything seems transient
That little thing,
Enters your heart,
Like the perfume of a flower.
And when it is returned
It strengthens bonds
And life becomes easier
For two, in the big city.
Two thousand years ago under the columns of a temple, perched high in the Judean mountains, a kindly young shepherd was calling his sheep.
Matthew Ch.11, v.28 "COME TO ME, ALL OF YOU who are weary and I will refresh you, I am gentle and humble of heart. Your soul will find rest for my yolk is easy and my burden is light.'
BLESSED ARE THEY WHO SHOW MERCY
for mercy shall be theirs. (Matth. 5 v 7)
What is mercy ?
A - It is a virtue which requires the inner quality of compassion (like the good Samaritan), indulgence, empathy and kindness. It is be charitable and forgive the weaknesses of those you live with, to put your little ME second.
B - It is to understand, accept and be aware of the difficulties of life and to understanding of the problems of the disadvantaged. It is to take life as it IS with its blessings, its suffering, its frustrations and its unequal struggles.
Mercy is to create a balance between the present and future. It is to admit the weakness of the humanity and its inequalities, its changing moods, its 'right to make involuntary mistakes' and the obligation to make amends for injuries caused.
C - Finally it is the inestimable ability to 'forgive' and accept the sincere repentance of the one who has erred, to believe that he is capable of doing better and to give him a chance to make amends. To forgive without a spirit of vengeance.
Psalm 41, v.2. 'Happy is he who has regard for the lowly and the poor for in the day of misfortune the Lord will deliver him'.
Proverbs 11, v.17 'A kindly man benefits himself'.
In the Old Testament forgiveness is often limited to one's brother (rarely to a stranger) and implies repairs equal to the damage caused. It is what Moses called the law of the talion: 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' (Exodus Ch.21, v.36).
In the New Testament Jesus perfects the Law of Moses;
- Luke Ch.6, v.36. "Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate,
- do not condemn and you will not be condemned,
- pardon and you will be pardoned,
- for the measure you measure with will be measured back to you".
The parable of the hard-hearted servant.
Matthew Ch.18, v.23."The reign of God may be said to be like a king, who decided to settle accounts with his officials. When he began his auditing, one was brought in who owed him 10,000 talents (l talent = 34 kilos of gold). As he had no way of paying it, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.
At that official prostrated himself in homage and said, 'My lord, be patient with me and will pay you back in full.'
Moved with pity the master let the official go and wrote off the debt. But when that same official went out he met a fellow servant who owed him 100 roman denarus
(For the sake of comparison: 100 Roman denarus = l Greek mina, and 60 minas = l talent or 34 kilos of gold), a paltry amount compared with his own enormous debt, yet he siezed him and throttled him.
'Pay back what you owe' he demanded. His fellow servant pleaded with him but he would have none of it, instead he had him put in jail till the debt was paid.
When the king heard of his he ordered that he too be given over to the torturers until he paid back his huge debt.
This is how my Heavenly Father will treat you if you do not forgive wholeheartedly.
Matthew Ch.9, v.11. Jesus and some publicans were one day eating in Matthews's house, The Pharisees saw this and complained to the disciples,
- "What reason can the Teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those disregard the law?".
Jesus overheard the remark and said:
- "People who are in good health do not need a doctor, sick people do not. Go and learn the meaning of the words
'It is MERCY I desire and not sacrifice (the blood of animals) for I have come to call not the righteous but the sinners".
Koran, Ch 14, s.10 'But for his boundless grace and mercy he would punish you forthwith, but he loves to pardon for God is merciful'.
Koran Ch 25, s.70. 'God will turn the bad deeds to good and for those who repent, have faith and are charitable, for he is indulgent and merciful'.
Koran Ch.4, s 22. God's mercy will be of no avail to those who sin constantly and on the approach of death cry out: "I repent".
Paul's letter to the Colossians Ch.3, v.12 " Clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another, forgive whatever grievances you have against one another,' but above all be charitable as this is the bond of perfection.
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
for they shall be called sons of God (Mathew Ch.5, v.9).
Peace, sang the angels at the birth of Jesus, "peace on earth, to men of goodwill'.
When Jesus was about to be arrested, Peter, who had hidden two swords under his cape, cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus touched Malchus' ear and healed it, then said to his disciples:
(Matth. ch 26 v 52) :
- "Those who use the sword are sooner or later destroyed by it",
thus clearly stating that violence engenders violence.
Let us quote Albert Einstein in his book 'As I see the world''...I vehemently loathe heroism to order, gratuitous violence and feeble patriotism. War is the most odious thing. I would prefer to be shot than to take part in such ignominy.
I feel intensely for the mystery of life. This feeling is the basis of truth and beauty and gives birth to art and science.
I have but one rule to determine the value of a man: 'to what degree and for what purpose is this man free of his EGO...'.
Money taints all things and only exceptional and irreproachable human beings give rise generous ideas and sublime acts. The needs of man in terms of food and daily needs could easily be satisfied with a greatly reduced hours of work.
An organized plan should exist for the production of goods, the use of labor and the distribution of commodities. It is vital to avoid the disappearance vital natural resources and the impoverishment of large parts of the population and their return to life in the wild'.........(End of quote)
Wars do not start with an official declaration or on a political pretext which sets fire to the powder keg. War starts in the minds of people when they feel crushed, humiliated and exploited, and they go hungry when, alongside them, a minority lives in the abundance, eccentricity and waste of the consumer society.
The Second World War did not start in 1939 but back in 1929 when America allowed speculation to replace the values gained by honest work.
This is why Germany, already crushed by the debts incurred in the 1914/18 war took the full force of and dramatic consequences of the great transatlantic financial crisis of 1929. It is the consequent unemployment and profound poverty which gave rise to extremist movements such as national socialism.
In January of 1933 Hitler, who promised work, was named Chancellor. People called him 'the führer': He who leads. Nazi dictatorship installed itself, stage by stage, and all opposition was crushed. The world was to know the 'hell of war'.Proverbs 24, v. 'Be not emulous of evil men and desire not be with them' and 'It is by wise guidance that you wage your war, and the victory is due to wealth of councilors'.
Rescue those who are being dragged to death. If you say, "I know not this man!" does not he who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each one according to his deeds'
Psalm 37, v.37 'Watch the wholehearted man, and mark the upright; for there is a future for the man of peace'.
Paul's 2nd letter to Timothy, Ch.1, v.6 'For this reason I remind you to stir into the flame the gift of God bestowed when my hands were laid on you. The Spirit of God has given us no cowardly spirit but rather one that makes us strong, loving and wise'.
John Ch.14, v.27
- 'PEACE IS MY FAREWELL TO YOU. MY PEACE IS MY GIFT TO YOU. I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.'
Each time he appeared after his death Christ said: "Peace be with you" (John Ch.21, v 26)
Let us give Matthew the closing word on this subject (Ch.16, v.26)
- "What profit would a man show if he were to gain the whole world and destroy his soul in the process. What can a man offer in exchange for his very soul?
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART for they shall see God (Matthew Ch.5, v.8)
1. The men who saw God in the Old Testament:
A. Moses (Exodus Ch.24, v.9)'...and they beheld the God of Israel. Under his feet there appeared to be saphire tilework, clear as the sky itself'.
B. Isaiah Ch.6, v.1 'I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above and each of them had six wings. Then one of the seraphim flew to me holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar and touched my mouth with it (purification).
2. LOVE which purified hearts.
A. The first example of a pure heart given by Jesus is that of children whose guardian angels 'constantly behold the heavenly Father's face. (Matthew Ch.18, v.10).
B. The second example of purity of heart is the result of love and sincere repentance which restores and purifies the heart. For example the fallen woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke Ch.7,v.45)
- "Her many sins are forgiven because of her great love."
C. Jesus speaking to Simon Peter after his third denial:
- "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?"
Three times Jesus asked for this declaration of love and fidelity as if to redeem Peter from his future betrayal, and each time Cephas, sadly replied:
- "Master, you who know all things, must also know that I love you..."
The same Peter who later wrote in his first epistle,
Ch.3 v.4: 'Women, your adornment is rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the unfading beauty of a calm and gentle disposition. This is precious in God's eyes'.
John, 1st epistle, Ch.3, v.2 'Dearly beloved, we are now God's children; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him keeps himself pure, as he is pure'.
Paul's letter to the Corinthians, Ch.13, v.12. 'Now we see indistinctly as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face'
and Corinthians Ch.3, v.16. 'Are you not aware that you are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you? For the temple of God is holy and you are the temple'.
Proverbs Ch.4, v.23 'With closest custody, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life'.
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