Today’s find: Taking cover

The beatitudes are a load. And sometimes, I find that I’m inclined to take cover in their sheer expanse.
I mean, really: Can Jesus expect me – or expect anyone – to fire on all eight of these cylinders, all the time?

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.

So yeah: Since the beatitudes tend to come as a package deal in liturgical settings, I have to admit that my mind and heart seem to wander a bit whenever I hear the litany begin. I wear their very familiarity like a shield, to ward off the opportunity for conversion or deep reflection.

But I didn’t get so lucky today.

We heard the beatitudes at Mass, on the first day of the restart of Ordinary time in the church year. And when we got to verse 7 – ‘blessed are the merciful’ – my heart skipped a beat.

I thought back to the situation I had encountered in the very same church building, less than 24 hours before. I was serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion – distributing the Body of Christ to the people of God – and as it happened, one of those who stood in line before me was a person I’m having trouble forgiving at the moment.

I had no trouble at all, I noticed, in sharing the Body of Christ with this person. To the contrary: It did me a world of good to have the chance to minister in this way to X. – to have the Real Presence of Christ forming a bridge across the woundedness that exists between the two of us. It gave me hope that the woundedness could, in fact, be healed.

By the Lamb's wounds, may we be healed.

By the Lamb’s wounds, may we be healed.

At the same time, I noticed that my unforgiveness didn’t go away because of that chance encounter in the Communion line. Nor have my struggles with X. evaporated.

Which no doubt explains why I found it impossible to take cover in the multiplicity of beatitudes today. The truth is, Jesus probably never meant for me to tackle all eight at one time.

On a day like today – the first day in Ordinary time – one beatitude is enough to remind me that I have plenty of work to do.


Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.

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One thought on “Today’s find: Taking cover

  1. Thanks, John. Yeah, me, too!

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