Dear Followers of Jesus,
In our Christian tradition, the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) are the roadmap to sainthood. This blueprint to living the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth is not unattainable in our own lives. We already possess the nature and heart of God through the gift of our baptism. We already belong to God. We already possess the nature of goodness or blessedness in God’s continuing creation.
Jesus announces these blessings for people who live in “the kingdom of heaven.” These aspects of our discipleship include: being poor in spirit, mourning loss, being meek, seeking justice, being merciful, being clean of heart, being peacemakers and bearers of insults and persecution. The Beatitudes are amazingly countercultural. Our happiness comes in letting go of our rigid and judgmental attitudes, our demands and certainties, and instead, learning to rely on God. We are given happiness from the Kingdom of God when we finally let go our ego and self-assuredness.
These Beatitudes are really a formation process for a life of gratitude. Perhaps as we listen and reflect on this week’s gospel, we can take to heart this message of gratefulness. This is another good posture, to turn toward gratefulness, as we begin the year of 2017.
Many of us can easily turn away from blessedness. Life can get us down. We easily lash out and blame others for our misfortunes and problems. Living this kind of life only leads to bitterness, envy, fear and loneliness.
God invites us to a different kind of life than foul-mouth blaming and finger pointing. Jesus is suggesting to us that we take stock of our lives and learn to be grateful. Thankfulness is a spiritual practice. This practice is often overlooked. For many people it seems frivolous and a waste of time, especially when a parent has lost a job or a youth has been rejected entrance into his first-choice for college.
Gratefulness is an act of blessedness. Unless we become humble enough, we will never find the Beatitudes. We may never discover a life of sheer grace, beauty and freedom. Here are some thoughts about living a life of gratefulness:
Allow yourself to find some moments of silence in the early morning. Make a list of blessings and gifts that you were given in the past twenty-four hours. Recall every conversation and feel the memories in your heart. If there are things you regret in those conversations, offer that regret in prayer. If there are aspects of anger, ill will, judgment or bitterness, offer those things to Jesus. Take stock of your relationships, family, work, talents, gifts, creativity and past. Be with God in silence and simply be grateful. Thank God for everything.
This is a life of Beatitudes. This is a life of gratefulness and thankfulness.
Blessings to you,