What an unhappy position to be in! A student studies for an English Expression exam only to find when she gets there that it is an English Literature paper that is placed in front of her. Yes, and what an unhappy position for anyone to be in whose life revolves around money, feelings of self-satisfaction, entertainment and popularity only to find that these don’t really bring true happiness. On the other hand, people generally regarded as losers (poor, hungry, sad and rejected) find themselves in a truly happy position when their lives revolve around God’s goodness and love. The expression, “I have been truly blessed”, or similar, has passed into popular speech today. But usually that expression is drawn forth by an awareness of how good it is to have money, feelings of self-satisfaction, or a happy, contented and respected life. We associate blessings with just those things that Jesus called woes. The Greek word makarioi usually translated blessed is sometimes translated by the word happy. The blessed are in a particularly happy situation, and who are they? According to Jesus, they are those who live as part of God’s realm, not as part of the ego-centric, worldly realm that is all too evident in human life. In fact, these two realms both impact upon us. Baptism is meant to be a commitment to live in God’s realm of truth, goodness and love, but God’s ways come under attack from the shear weight of popular opinion which pushes money, self-satisfaction or self-fulfilment, entertainment and popularity to the fore. To know the joy, the peace, the presence, the call, the loving acceptance of God is to be truly blessed. To live a life of trust, obedience, service, gratitude and compassion, irrespective of what others may say, is to live a life that is truly blessed.
- When did you unexpectedly find yourself in a particularly happy situation?
- Popular religion in Jesus’ time thought that things like wealth or affluence were signs of God’s favour. What do you think?
- The above bible passage contrasts two perspectives on life. One is God-inspired, the other is the worldly view. How do they compare.?
- Why should Jesus say, “Woe to you when all people speak well of you”?