You have heard it said,
"Love your friend," and its unwritten companion,
"Hate your enemy."
I'm challenging that.
I'm telling you
love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
And if you greet only your brothers [and sisters],
what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that?
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
- Matthew 5: 43-48 (The Message)
And thus does Matthew's seminal chapter on the Sermon on the Mount conclude. Fr. Thomas ends his commentary on the Beatitudes in this way:
"The Beatitudes are an assimilation of the values of Christ and of the Gospel. And thus, they become one's own and one understands them – the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus – from inside by personal experience. And not just spiritual consolation, but the even greater experience of struggling with the difficulties of life with dependence on Christ but without necessarily feeling … encouragement or consolation – standing on one's own two feet, in other words, and believing in God's help without demanding that it be felt.
" ... Don't take too passive or give too passive a meaning to some of these wisdom sayings of Jesus in which he urges us to accept what is. He always wants us to be ready to do something about the situation once we've accepted it. So the choice, then, or the discretion that has to develop as we gain freedom of choice from our compulsions and can decide what to do, is to listen carefully to the inspirations of the Spirit to see if we are called simply to endure something for the love of God; or, not only to endure it, but to do something about it.
"... [T]o love more greatly, to be more concerned, is the way that the Beatitudes are imparting the happiness of God which is to show [God's] love and to make the sun shine on the good and the not so good and on those who respond and those who do not respond.
"[And ultimately,] the big 'I' of Jesus Christ becomes our 'I'; that is, our identity, is now in Christ and no longer in our own interests alone. And if we have interests, we're always ready to give them up at the prompt request of the One with whom we are in union and who is the senior partner, so to speak, of the firm."
-Thomas Keating, from Monday's video
"God sees all that he has made, and it is very good. It is good because he sees it, because he sees it as good. God's vision is not a response to beauty; it is its cause. In our own small way, we too create by our seeing … The painter does not merely see and record a scene of beauty, he creates it. What he has seen is enriched by his seeing, it comes into its own in his vision of it.
"… In the light … we can see what it means for us to confess our poverty and our helplessness and to renounce the attempt to overcome them on our own … We accept our suffering and turn it into a compassion with all the pains that [humanity] bears, bundled together … We discover and fortify our … yearning for all righteousness to be revealed, while at the same time tempering it with a deep and comprehensive mercy, which we know we need ourselves and which we hope to have … We come imperceptibly to see everything more purely in the light of God's seeing of all that [God] has made, and we … whisper the truth of the infinite peace of God's will even in the midst of the storms and contentions of life in this world. … There is all our poverty and helplessness and pain, all our yearning and all our mutual injustice, taken up into the stillness of God's everlasting love … In all of it, beatitude is formed in the depth of our … lives, giving us … a courage to persevere until all joy is revealed."
- Simon Tugwell, The Beatitudes: Soundings in Christian Traditions
Examen: Bernadette Roberts urged throughout her works: "As it goes for Christ, so it goes for us." In the Work, we learn that knowledge practiced on ourselves produces understanding. As we conclude our study of the Beatitudes, what you are called to take with you? Perhaps a new insight, a new way of looking at righteousness, suffering, the world, yourself? A new practice of conscious suffering or external considering?
An archive of previous emails may be found here.