Matthew 5:1-12 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

5 Seeing the crowds, Yeshua walked up the hill. After he sat down, his talmidim came to him, and he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
“How blessed are the poor in spirit!
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
“How blessed are those who mourn!
    for they will be comforted.
“How blessed are the meek!
    for they will inherit the Land![a]
“How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness!
    for they will be filled.
“How blessed are those who show mercy!
    for they will be shown mercy.
“How blessed are the pure in heart!
    for they will see God.
“How blessed are those who make peace!
    for they will be called sons of God.
10 “How blessed are those who are persecuted
because they pursue righteousness!
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “How blessed you are when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of vicious lies about you because you follow me! 12 Rejoice, be glad, because your reward in heaven is great — they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

Hold on a minute! How is this supposed to work exactly?

I’ve never put much stock in the Sermon on the Mount, because it just doesn’t match up with the reality that I know—

 People who don’t have much spirit usually don’t make the effort to look on the bright side.

There is often little to no comfort for those who mourn, and grief is often greeted with impatience.

Timid people are often cheated out of things; conned and taken advantage of so that they lose their rightful inheritance.

Rampant injustice is the order of the day, and there is no correlation between how much a person wants justice and peace, and the actual achievement of it.

Ask anyone who practices compassion, it’s not very often that they are given much consideration in return; they are more likely to be regarded as dupes and suckers.

What the hell does “pure in heart” mean anyway? Does that mean that a person can examine their own heart to find out if it’s pure? Or if not, who is it that’s going to give us the seal of approval?

Peacemakers are also known as “sons of God”? In what universe? Conflict generates its own energy, and most of the time those who try to break the cycle just get thrown for a loop.

Oh yeah, and people that are bullied because they wear their hearts on their sleeves, and are na├»ve enough to think that loving something  because its worth loving for its own sake…..how often are they vindicated? I haven’t seen it.

Oh and that last part….it pretty much sums up all the disinformation and misperceptions about Christianity itself, much of which is the fault of so-called Christians who have missed the boat entirely. What reward do honest Christians get for being lumped in with those religious racketeers? What benefit is there in being castigated by the ignorant like the prophets were? This is supposed to make us happy?

Here’s a twist on things—

Is it possible that Jesus was being sarcastic? Is it possible that he was pointing an accusing finger at people who engage in some kind of spiritual hucksterism; carnival barkers of the principle of quid pro quo?

I mean, think about it!

Is it possible that Jesus wasn’t trying to convince people to be spiritually impoverished, grieving, meek and humble, devoted to fair play, merciful and compassionate, pure in heart, conciliatory, and pleased about being persecuted?

What if Jesus was trying to get at something else altogether?

What if he was talking about how inane it is to let our ideas and assumptions interfere with our understanding?

What if all he was trying to point out is the simple fact that reality is completely unaffected by our ideas about it?

What if we are supposed to hear this sermon, and say, “Wait! What?”

What if the ‘blessedness’ he’s talking about is just that?

What if the blessedness arises out of the plain old everyday crap that we all have to put up with? The discouragement, the sorrow, the humiliation; along with the compassion, the integrity, the kindness?

What if he’s saying that nothing can affect the “blessedness”? It doesn’t matter if you are the persecutor or the persecuted; if you are meek or proud; if you are kind, or sorrowful, or humble, or pissed off at injustice?

What if his whole point was that nothing can change the ultimate truth of blessedness, because we’ve been blessed from the very beginning, and it’s just the way things are? (And what the hell does “blessedness” mean anyway? The Greek is “makarios” which means ‘happy’. If it’s used as a noun it can mean ‘one who receives divine favor’.  In the Old Testament, when God ‘blesses’ something, it means that it’s ‘made holy.’)

What if all Jesus meant was that all human beings are just plain blessed? What if he was saying that we’ve been holy all along, we will be holy, and we are holy, whether we know it or not?

What if he was trying to tell us that no matter what happens, nothing’s going to change that?

What if it’s simply our nature to be holy and blessed, and the only thing that’s in our power to adjust is our own awareness of that nature?

That brings me to Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, and Creation Spirituality:

1)The universe is fundamentally a blessing.
Our relationship with the Universe fills us with awe.

2) In Creation, God is both immanent and transcendent. This is panentheism which is not theism (God out there) and not atheism (no God anywhere).
We experience that the Divine is in all things & all things are in the Divine.

3) God is as much Mother as Father, as much Child as Parent, as much God in mystery as the God in history, as much beyond all words and images as in all forms and beings.
We are liberated from the need to cling to God in one form or one literal name.

4) In our lives, it is through the work of spiritual practice that we find our deep and true selves.
Through the arts of meditation and silence we cultivate a clarity of mind and move beyond fear into compassion and community.

5)  Our inner work can be understood as a four-fold journey involving:
– awe, delight, amazement (known as the Via Positiva)
– uncertainty, darkness, suffering, letting go (Via Negativa)
– birthing, creativity, passion (Via Creativa)
– justice, healing, celebration (Via Transformativa)

We weave through these paths like a spiral danced, not a ladder climbed.

—From the Principles of Creation Spirituality on their website- http://www.matthewfox.org/what-is-creation-spirituality/

You know, it’s funny, because I read Matthew Fox years ago, and was persuaded to his views about the essential goodness of God’s Creation, and human beings’ ability to enter into the liminal Presence of God. It’s just that I didn’t realize how much I had integrated and internalized all of the implications until I read the Principles online just now.

Just one more excerpt from the website:

10) The basic work of God is compassion and we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion.
We acknowledge our shared interdependence; we rejoice at one another’s joys and grieve at one another’s sorrows and labor to heal the causes of those sorrows.

Now, that makes a bit more sense out of the Sermon on the Mount. At least to me it does.

In that spirit, I’ll dare to paraphrase that old familiar Sermon—

Holy are the ones who pour out their spirits until they are empty— they live in God’s realm.

Mourning is made holy by comforting, and comforting is made holy by mourning.

Holy are those who claim nothing, because the Creation will uphold them without fail.

Virtue is made holy by the lack of it, and our hunger for it is made holy by its Presence.

Holy are the ones who act in kindness, because they dwell in the heart of compassion.

Holy are those with clean, clear hearts; they are a window through which we see God.

Peacemakers are made holy when they invite affinity, because it’s in kinship that we claim our Source and know our birthright.

The steadfast ones are made holy by cruelty, and cruelty is made holy by their unfaltering trust. They can never be exiled from the realm of God.


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