I’m so clever. I can come up with sophisticated meditations on the beatitudes.
And in that self-congratulation, I can avoid the life of the beatitudes. Indeed.
The beatitudes are too scary for me. Too in-your-face. Kind of like lightning. When it’s about to strike you it’s not possible a millionth of a nano-second beforehand to say, “Stop! Let me get out of the way!” No. Lightning strikes you and you are thrown to the ground. You are stunned if not outright unconscious. And in utter stupidity, I rely, I depend, I run to my clever, sophisticated commentary, thus remaining in my stupor.
There’s no way out of this for any of us from inside of ourselves, nor does Jesus say: “Do this! And then you will be happy!” No. The beatitudes are a description of the way things are when they are already being lived.
We can’t just “make a decision” so that then we are living the beatitudes and then we are happy. We can’t lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps, just ending up on our keisters.
If, instead, with the grace of Jesus, He drawing us into His friendship, we are enlivened by love of God and love of neighbor received into our hearts and souls and minds from Him, that is, His love and truth and goodness and kindness, then when we happen to come across the beatitudes on a random Sunday or in our own reading of the Scriptures, it will be like a lightning bolt striking us, but this time not stunning us, but rather vindicating us, strengthening us, encouraging us, we realizing that the joyous beatitudes are ours, not because we have gone after them, but because they have come after us, because Jesus has come after us.
Look up the beatitudes in the Gospels and ask how they strike you. Are you wiped out or enlivened, stunned into a catatonic state or steadfastly happy in your friendship with our Lord Jesus?