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This Sunday we reflect on the beatitudes, the beginning of the long section in Matthew’s gospel, known as “the Sermon on the Mount”. What does “blessed” mean? It essentially means to “be happy”. Sounds great! But then we look at what Jesus says about being happy and realise the he has a very different idea from ours.
I think I’m happy when I’ve got my stuff sorted. But Jesus honours a kind of poverty of spirit. As Eugene Peterson paraphrases, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there’s more of God and his rule.” “Less is more” is certainly true in Jesus’ idea of happiness.
Mourning, humility, longing for righteousness, purity, peacemaking and persecution. These are the other qualities Jesus mentions and they seem to have little to do with the so-called “happiness” of frivolous and fleeting fun and fashion today! Instead they speak to our deepest needs and our greatest good. They invite us to order our lives by the new “upside-down” values of God’s kingdom.