On the beatitudes …

I’ve been enjoying my friend Fr. Richard Rohr’s beautiful reflections on the beatitudes that come in his daily devotional emails (you can sign up here … highly recommended!). After the jump, I’ll include a few that have touched me especially.
On the beatitudes, I wish a US publisher would make Dave Andrews’ beautiful book Plan-Be more widely available here in the US. Dave sent me the book from Australia, and it is a real gem. There’s nothing like it available here in the US. Here’s a video put together by the Aussie publisher:

Here are some readings from Richard Rohr …
The Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3 – 12) offer us a more spacious world, a world where I do not have to explain everything, fix everything, or control anything beyond myself, a world where we can allow a Larger Mystery to work itself out through us and in us. These things are done to us more than anything we can do. The Beatitudes are about changing me, not changing other people. Wonderfully, it is not about being right anymore. Who can fully do the Beatitudes “right”? It is about being in right relationship, which is a very different agenda.
We live, of course, in the tension between two worlds: the world where I need to prove that I am right and the world of daily right relationship with myself and others. One demands dominative power and concern with changing other people; the other is a self-renewing call to right relationship, and is primarily about changing me.
Adapted from Jesus’ Plan for the New World, p.174
Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of justice:
the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
~ Matthew 5:10
This Beatitude is stated in the present tense: Theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus was almost always talking about rewards and punishments as being inherent in the action itself. We unfortunately pushed Jesus’ teaching off into a reward-punishment system that was supposed to take place later, after death. It pretty much made the Gospel innocuous in this world, and largely appealed to our fear, our security needs, and a delayed self interest.
Jesus is not giving us a set of prescriptions for later nearly as much as a set of descriptions of how life works now.
The self that Jesus himself teaches from and then offers to us is our true self in God. That core, content identity is so grounded that it can consider persecution an asset or even a “blessing”! The false self considers such teachings as these as pure nonsense or even dangerous. It makes one fear that much of Christian history has been enabling and empowering the false and insecure self instead of any glorious revealing of the true self.
Adapted from Jesus’ Plan for the New World, p.141
Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognized as children of God.
~ Matthew 5:9
A peacemaker is the one who reconciles quarrels and overcomes conflicts, first of all within himself or herself. Clearly you can see Jesus is not on the side of the violent but on the side of the non-violent, yet we did not have the English word “non-violence” until the 1950’s. You do not have a word for something that is not even in your consciousness.
It is almost impossible to believe how most of Christian history was unable to hear Jesus’ rather explicit teaching on non-violence. It seems that we started, encouraged, idealized, and fought in most wars that were ever available to us. The only time—until very recently—that a Pope ever condemned a war was when the Turks invaded the Papal States! But, thank God, there were a few smaller groups like the Mennonites, Quakers, and Amish who always took Jesus’ teaching seriously.
Jesus is saying there must be a clear consistency, a constant unity between our means and the ends we hope to achieve. There is no way to peace other than peacemaking itself. How you get there is always where you finally arrive.
Adapted from Jesus’ Plan for the New World, p.139