Sunday, 22 August 2021 09:08

Are you blessed?

In his so-called Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave an instruction for happiness that can guide us through all crises. In one translation, it reads something like this:

Blessed are the people who know about their poverty and stand by it.
Blessed are those who weep, for their hearts will be pure.
Blessed are the defenceless, for only they will be able to make peace.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of right living before God.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the right life.

Please note that it says "blessed are" and not "blessed will be in another world", no, without ifs and buts, "Blessed are … here and now ...".

Never forget: Life is not a problem --- it is a mystery that wants to be lived. (Jay Joyful)

What does "blessed" mean?

The word „blessed“ should give cause to think about its meaning. In the language of the Bible translations, theologians and priests, the word „blessed“ is so solemnised and far removed from real life. It no longer seems to have anything to do with life experience. It seemingly points to a promised state of happiness in an otherworldly world.
But Jesus did not describe icons or images of saints in the Beatitudes. Rather, here too he really and truly wanted to transform the oppressive everyday life of ordinary people.
In this respect, the word "blessed" describes a state of most intense life through God. It does not at all denote a sacrosanct state of holy spiritualisation such as that of the saints of the Catholic Church.
It is not easy to find a profane translation, and probably this is also because we are so far removed from it in our lives and our conception of it that we no longer even have a term for it. One possible translation would be "happy", but this is so superficial in its meaning in common usage that it does not do justice to the depth of what Jesus is saying here. „Healed“ would definitely be the best choice.
"Blessed" is a state that arises and a feeling that stirs when one begins to look at life through the eyes of God. "Blessed“ is the one who lives the truth that is in him.
The Beatitudes thus describe a unique re-evaluation of reality.
In this way, they name something that, according to the immediate understanding, is the epitome of unhappiness, and show that in truth it is precisely the perfection of happiness when one begins to live it from God.
Let us review the line that is generally translated as „Blessed are the poor in spirit“.
Certainly, poverty is a fate that one would like to avoid. This is all the more true in a capitalist world like ours.
But it can be a happiness to be poor, if it is of the spirit. „Poor in the spirit“ is a translation error that is maintained out of convenience and habit. It is not a question of being "poor in spirit", but in the original a grammatical instrumentalis is used, i.e. "poor by means of the spirit".
So it should be: "Blessed are the people who find poverty through the spirit".
By "spirit" here is not meant the mind of man, but is meant the spirit of God and thus also the spiritual truth of man.
What is considered a pitiable disgrace in society, poverty, is no longer pitiable at all when it is lived in inner freedom instead of a fate from outside. To have to be poor is a pitiable fate, but to be allowed to be poor is an unheard-of liberation.
It is precisely in this that God's all-transforming power consists, that through Him what otherwise must appear as a curse according to reason and earthly standards proves to be a blessing.
People may think they "are" rich, but it is actually external things through which this wealth is identified, and not a quality or intrinsic value of the human being. Here, once again, we lie to ourselves through our language by saying "XY is rich". On their deathbeds, these people who thought they were rich then realise what a delusion they were under.
That is why Jesus shows that people are blessed who know that they are poor and also remain with outward wealth. But in contrast to those who accumulate riches, the poor person can stand by being poor. The poor person can truly take care of his spiritual development, while the rich person is busy with his riches and thinks he can buy "shortcuts" in life. Look around at the fortunes the rich spend on personal development seminars and coaching, and yet all that wealth keeps them from focusing on the essentials of life and facing the real tasks of life. What rich person can really afford trust, love, compassion, joy, gratitude, etc.?
Hence the Jesus word: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God".
Nothing can be done about the essential immanent poverty of the human being. Those who seek to overcome it with external means such as money and power, hard work and success, increase toil and torment, distraction and diversion. But those who are able to no longer deny and flee the poverty of being, but to affirm it from within, will find their way back into the peace and harmony that God created. To be poor, in this sense, means to rediscover the original quality of existence and to immerse oneself in a field of grace as it essentially exists from God.
Your suggested aternative "Blessed are those who think about how to try to improve their lives (where possible). Who aim to raise themselves out of poverty into abundance." is indeed a typical view of a philosophy, which sees life as a struggle. In it is the belief that everyone has the possibility to free themselves from poverty and accumulate wealth through effort and diligence.
Tell that to a malnourished child who has to help feed his many-headed family in one of the world's slums ...
Isn't it true that in the money-oriented world, everything you earn is taken away from someone else? After all, the money supply doesn't grow because you collect rent or take payment for an apple. The abundance that you strive to achieve for yourself actually means a lack for someone else. Just look at the world: Wherever wealth grows, poverty also grows. The gap between rich and poor is widening.
But you will find true abundance in nature as it was created by God. Love increases when you share it. Mother Earth has provided everything you need to live. There is enough for all, and it grows again endlessly.
Only the idea of possessions and wealth creates poverty, destroys nature and kills its fertility.
Blessed are the people who know about their poverty and stand by it.
You also have difficulty with "Blessed are the defenceless for only they will be able to make peace" and you point out "This doesn't seem to apply in many situations of war where civilians are slaughtered, made slaves, or otherwise subjugated."
Most bible translations offer the expression „blessed are the meek“. This sounds as if a certain attitude of mind is meant by it. And again by using "is" it is described a characterictic or immanent atttitude. But here too, Jesus is describing a humiliated state. Here, too, it must be translated in such a way that it sounds completely negative at first. What is meant is exactly the state that you describe in your comment: subjugated, enslaved, at the mercy of others. What is described here is complete defencelessness, not as a moral virtue, but as a thoroughly lamentable state. And here too: instead of being defenceless out of need and oppression, for example through the superiority and overwhelming strength of the other, "defencelessness" can be lived out of the spirit.
Man believes himself too much in a delusion of strength and power. This delusion becomes a kind of creed and never-ending hymn of praise to man and his abilities. Strength, control, superiority are pursued and worshipped like virtues. But a look at the present day and at any period in history shows an immense amount of suffering and destruction caused by the pursuit of power and strength. What war would ever have brought peace? What use of weapons would ever have ended in increasing love and compassion or making the world a better place?
Instead of accepting his outer defencelessness of existence, man fights everything and everyone, especially himself, his human nature.
But how does one fight the hailstorm, the tornado, the volcanic eruption? How can one fight death? How could one win truth or life by fighting?
Truth dies first in every war. In order to be able to fight at all, the lie must arise that the opponent is not a human being, has no right to live, is not a being loved by God, not a creation of the Creator.
To respond to violence with counter-violence is to forfeit external and internal peace, since one uses the very means one claims to fight against.
The greatest human achievements were made by people who were defenceless: Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King... and of course Jesus. And every day uncounted humble individuals do the same, althoug nthey never achieved any power or physical strength.
All this is about finally living in such a way that people realise what God meant when he created them.
This is summarised in the line
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the right life.
The good and righteous life that people thirst for is neither to be understood as moralistic or materialistic. It is exclusively a life that results when a person is in harmony with God.
To bring man back into this essence of things is the whole intention of Jesus. He wants to renew the human being from the spirit by explaining precisely those aspects of life that repeatedly release the strongest energies of disturbance and destruction in the field of fear.
This is the true redemptive revelation of the Gospel.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.“

(John 8:32)
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