You’ve seen wall art and throw pillows displaying the word “blessed.” “Grateful and blessed,” “Too blessed to be stressed,” or just plain “Blessed!” It’s good to feel blessed, but that’s not the point in Matthew’s beatitudes.
After announcing God’s reign and calling disciples to work with him toward that mission, Jesus presents his vision statement for what God’s reign will look like. It is blessing for the poor, the mourning, the lowly and hungry, manifested not by feeling but by visible change in their condition. Unfortunately, some have interpreted this to mean that personal fortune and comfort equal divine blessing.Those who mourn will be comforted not by sentiments but by advocacy. Click To Tweet
Scripture scholar Raj Nadella gives us a better understanding. He draws attention to the Greek translation of “comforted” in verse 4 of today’s passage and notes that the verb is derived from the word “paraclete,” meaning “advocate.” Those who mourn will be comforted not by sentiments but by advocacy. Nadella also notes each beatitude’s passive structure, which invites us to ask who is doing the advocating—the Spirit, of course, but also those whom the Spirit has blessed, us. We’ll see this meaning confirmed in the parable of the sheep and goats later in Matthew 25.
Perhaps the decorative sentiment that gets closest is “Blessed to bless.” Let’s turn God’s blessing from art on our walls into action on behalf of those in need.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: Polina Tankilevich from corelens.
Read more reflections on the Sunday readings here:
- Going Further
- Can we be salt and light?
- Who is advocating for those in need?
- Bonded to Christ’s Mission
- Deepening the unity