Choose Wisely

All Saints Day. Gray and rainy in the Northeast. Election Day imminent. Pandemic spreading. Families reeling. Fears of economic losses and civil unrest. And here we are, such as we are, with the Gospel of the Beatitudes standing in startling contrast to the tumult overwhlming every other aspect of life.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.Mt. 5:1-12

And there, wrapped in every line, weighted in the flow of verse, rest the very secrets to being fully human, fully alive. Every phrase delineates a fundamental aspect of humanity; each characteristic is named, and each is followed by a promise of a future, a next step. There is a quiet reality to each one, to the isolation and even the suffering each portrays or implies. But beyond that, there is that sense of commitment to life, to somehow making things work. Everything about the Beatitudes points to the challenges and difficulties that life presents. Nothing suggests that there is sanctity in rigidity, judgementalness or cruelty. Instead, there is a certain self-confidence flowing from choosing compassion, kindess, hope and peace. The Beatitudes are about personally choosing a path and then making a difference in the lives of others and self.

Each one implies that many other paths are possible, even likely. But these choices, resting in the most human of hands, offer a profound difference, a comforting sense of possibility, a commitment to being. They are far more than “Be-attitudes.” Instead, they are richly textured with the power of choice and possibility; they rest in the life of every human person. The words are a reminder not only of the strengths of human beings but the links between and among us. Here, there is no class, no race, no gender: it is all about everyone, each one. Most importantly, each one matters.

In this time of heightened anxiety and fears, looking into the eyes of another, seeing through the eyes of another, is essential. The Beatitudes dare us to step out of the box and open the doors to one another, to dare to listen, see, comfort, console, choose and challenge. Above all, the Beatitudes are about actions born of deep convictions, reflected in attitudes and brought to life by choice. Choose wisely.

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