Sometimes, I wonder: Did Jesus ever just have a bad day? Or simply an especially tiring one?
There’s a shred of evidence that he did grow a little weary at times, such as in the passage from Mark’s gospel we heard at Mass on Saturday.
Leaving the crowd, [the disciples] took Jesus with them in the boat, just as he was.
In this instance ‘…just as he was’ apparently was exhausted. Worn out. Beat down. Because Jesus fell fast asleep on the boat, oblivious to the life-threatening squall that began to rage not long after the vessel had left the safety of the shore.
There’s a certain comfort in this image, don’t you think? That even the Holy One needed some downtime now and again. And that perhaps Jesus could feel drained by the crowd…by the relentless press of his daily obligations.
And then there’s this: The Beatitudes. We encounter them in the gospel passage proclaimed on Sunday.
Frankly, the beatitudes can be a bit overwhelming, especially if we take them to represent something like a ‘to-do’ list for sanctification. It’s nigh on impossible to measure up on every count—and it can be exhausting to confront one’s inadequacy in this regard.
But what if Jesus had something other than a ‘to-do list’ in mind when offering his teaching?
Consider: What if Jesus, in seeing the crowd, was encouraging us to recognize the blessing we have in each other? The goodness—the spark of God-ness—present in all those who are willing to take us, ‘just as we are’?
Certainly I can hope—with the help of God’s grace—to allow the beatitudes to take deeper root in my own heart. At the same time, I can rejoice in the fact that they are already alive…and thriving…throughout the Body of Christ. A kind of crowd-sourced sanctity, if you will.
It’s not much of a stretch to avail myself of just such a social network of grace: From among my loved ones and friends, it’s easy to put a name (or two or three) next to each entry on the list:
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.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Surely, I’m not alone in this. What names, what blessings among the Body of Christ, do the beatitudes bring to mind for you?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.