Sunday, January 29, 2017

Eight or Nine States of Utmost Bliss

This Sunday most churches will start reading the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. It is not typical of the Sunday lectionary to progress without omissions through an entire chapter of anything over four Sundays in a row, so the next month of Sundays gives pewsitters a chance to knit things into a coherent whole (if they can remember where the readings left off the previous week).

Once, as part of an interview, I was asked to name my favorite Bible verse. I answered that I would name a passage rather than a verse, and I said, "The Beatitudes".

How many souls over the ages have been comforted by these words.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12
Matthew gives us nine "blessed are's" beatitudes, but some count eight lumping "persecute you" and "revile you" together to come up with the lesser number. Luke in Chapter 6 gives us just four beatitudes.

Webster defines beatitude as,

Either a state of utmost bliss or a title for a primate especially of an Eastern church, and in Christianity it means any of the declarations made in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:3–11) beginning in the Authorized Version with “Blessed are”. 
The derivation of the word appears to have been borrowed from Latin beātitūdō, from beātus “happy, fortunate” + -tūdō (paraphrased and by me).
All of us have experienced times when we could identify with one of those groups who could count their blessings no matter how down we felt simply by remembering our Saviour's words from this part of the Sermon in the Mount.

I know they helped me through some tough times.

Thank you Lord!

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