Yesterday I called attention to the fact that there are six hundred and thirteen commandments or statutes contained in the Torah. We all know ten of them by heart. Today I would like to call attention to the fact that while we know the eight beatitudes, there are more than eighty of them contained throughout the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. The technical name for these statements among Scripture scholars is “macarisms.” This term comes from the first word which we often translate “blessed.” It comes from the ancient Greek word which means to ascribe happiness to someone.
However, in Scripture, we also note that these statements are Wisdom statements which draw upon the human experience and highlight the things that make us happy or blessed. The strange thing is that Jesus’ macarisms seem to just the opposite. They ask us to look at the world while standing on our head. Jesus takes a different perspective on happiness or blessedness. We should not be surprised by this. After all, Jesus is constantly telling us that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and that those who desire to be great should seek to be the least.
We don’t really need any new macarisms. Living up the eighty we find in the Scriptures is a big enough job. However, Pope Francis has offered us six new beatitudes that fit into our modern perspective of life:
◦ Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart.
◦ Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness.
◦ Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.
◦ Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
◦ Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
◦ Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
Finally, we pray today, in the words of one of the Eucharistic Prayers, may we work together for the coming of God’s Kingdom, until the hour when we stand before God, Saints among the Saints in the halls of heaven.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator