3‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Greek word used here for “Blessed” is makarios. And often it is translated as “happy.” And we are left to wrestle even more I think, because I don’t think that everything that makes us “happy” is a blessing from God. It’s just too often that people are happy with less than what God wants to give us. That is the heart of our brokenness, we want less than what God wants.
How can it be that we are happy when we mourn anyway? Isn’t that sort of the definition of mourning? Being sad (unhappy) due to a great loss? Who might have lost something in this text? Who might the mourners be here? While Jesus sees and addresses the gathered crowd, there is a sense that some of his words are directed most directly to his disciples, who have just recently left their family and answered the call of Jesus. But Jesus’ words do speak to anyone who suffers for the sake of Jesus. His words are a call to live in a Here/Not Yet tension.
For those who are called and answer the call of Jesus, following after him, we trust in the hope of God’s reign, that we will see it. As such, we might be forced to mourn here and now as choosing what God desires might put us at odds with what the world desires. We suffer loss. But as we continue to exist within the Church, we continue to point to Jesus and the Kingdom of heaven, God’s reign, as our present and future hope.
The idea of comfort here is not just the idea of consoling words spoken to ease grief, but consolation which strengthens us to persevere and continue being salt of the earth and light to the world.
Being merciful, pure in heart, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, making peace are not at all ways that we earn God’s favor, but they are the practices that shape and form us to be people of the Kingdom, subjects who are happy under God’s rule. We are already granted citizenship now in that Kingdom, and we learn through our discipleship what the Kingdom will look like when it arrives in its fullness.
Grace and Peace.