Consider these two questions. You don’t have to write an essay, but just think through what your reactions might be.
- What makes you happy?
- How do you best learn?
Read the Beatitudes through (either alone or as a group). As you read, mark the text with:
- !! for that which makes you think;
- those things you agree with, or approve of;
- those things you find difficult to believe or understand;
- ?? those things which require you to go a little bit further.
Can you answer these questions?
- What tense are the Beatitudes written in? (that is, are they saying something about the past, present or future?). What significance might these tenses have?
- Can you see any pattern to the layout of the Beatitudes? (that is, what structure do the sayings have, is there a flow to the ideas they express?)
- Are any words or ideas left undefined? Is there ambiguity? (that is, can a sentence mean more than one thing?)
- Read again how St Matthew tops and tails the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:1-2; Mat 7:28-29). What does this add to your understanding of the Beatitudes?
- Sum up the Beatitudes in one sentence.
What do you think of these two statements?
- The Beatitudes are not laws— rather they are statements of grace. They overflow with affirmation, accepting love and reassurance.
- The Beatitudes draw for us a very strange picture of the man who is blessed: he is poor and unimpressive, hungry and in mourning, trodden on, yet able to make peace. [Simon Tugwell : Reflections on the Beatitudes (1980)]
Noirin Ni Riain and the Monks of Glenstal Abbey : The Beatitudes (1989); Kevin Healy OSB
Nóirín Ní Riain is an Irish singer, theologian and musicologist. Her doctorate in the theology of listening coined a new word ‘theosony’, a Greek/Latin neologism which means ‘God-sounding’. The composer, a Benedictine monk, has added a chorus: “Amen. Truly I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). What do Jesus’s words to the penitent thief add to the Beatitudes? Are they deepened? Changed? Spoilt? Improved?