Step #1: Lectio / Read
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Today’s gospel is an excerpt from Matthew you may have heard once or twice before. It recounts the words of Jesus, spoken to the ever-present crowds of his followers on the side of a mountain in Galilee. These words have since been named "The Beatitudes". I admit I was quite intimidated when I first realized that I was to write the reflection for today, and my choices of readings to reflect on included THE BEATITUDES. Yikes! I thought something along the lines of “how does one sit down and try to reflect on these perfect pearls of wisdom delivered to us at the start of the Sermon on the Mount by our Savior”? Nonetheless, even with that initial anxiety, there were zero seconds between my taking inventory of the readings, and the certainty in my mind that I was about to contemplate and transcribe whatever the Holy Spirit wanted to relate through me at this moment about the substance of Jesus’ words to our fellow disciples on the slopes of that mountain. So I found a quiet spot in my house, read over the gospel a couple of times, and waited and listened, giving myself over to the Spirit …
… And this is the word that He spoke to me … “Blessed”. Nine times Jesus said this word. Nine times he asserted “Blessed are the …”. I’ve never been so struck by this word as I was this time. What does it mean? A quick Google search for the definition shed much light on the question. One definition states “made holy; consecrated”, another expresses “endowed with divine favor and protection”. Its synonyms include “favored”, “fortunate”, “privileged”, and “happy”. Jesus is not talking in the past tense here, nor in the future tense. He is not saying “Blessed WILL be the …”. He is clearly saying “Blessed ARE …” those whose hearts conform to the dispositions He lists. Right here, on this earth, in this life, on this day. He links each disposition to the ultimate reward that WILL be realized for possessing such virtues; knowing the kingdom of Heaven, being comforted, inheriting the land, gaining satisfaction, receiving mercy, and seeing God. He finally says “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven”. He links the future with the present, clarifying that turning your heart to Jesus, and living a life fueled by temperaments of the Holy Spirit, in each present moment, does not only lead you to the many splendid rewards of the next life, but pulls that glorious future forward and breathes it into our lives here and now. For this reason, as Jesus illuminates, we are truly fortunate, we are favored, we are privileged, and we are happy. We ARE blessed.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
The Beatitudes give us a positive path to follow as opposed to rules or things to avoid. How does this positive spin change your perspective on faith? In other words, how does looking at your faith journey as a series of blessings to be obtained as opposed to just simply rules to follow, change your outlook on faith?
Who do you know in your life that lives out these Beatitudes well? How are they blessed because of it?
What are the ways you are blessed in your life?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Thank you for your blessings, Lord."
"Rejoice and be glad."
"Your reward will be great in heaven."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
Make a list of blessings in your life and thank God for them. Make another list of the Beatitudes and ways you can live them out better in your everyday life.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jim Lundgren, a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL.