Consider these questions. (You don’t have to write an essay, but just think through what your answers might be.)
- How do you like to be treated? Do you treat others in the same way?
Read through Matthew 5:7-8 (either alone or as a group). As you read, look at the notes you made when you read the Beatitudes during the first week:
- !! 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.
A note to help you:
For most modern readers ‘heart’ is the symbolic source of our emotions, and so “pure in heart” is to do with having the right feelings. In the ancient world ‘heart’ more often stood for ‘the inner person’, your mind and your will. “The heart is a symbol of what we are in ourselves, of the source of all our reactions and aspirations. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart’ will mean something like ‘Blessed are those who have a pure source of life in them.’ (Simon Tugwell).
Can you answer these questions?
- Is pure the same as ‘nice’?
- What is the connection between purity of heart and seeing clearly?
- Is it naïve to see the best and the possible in people and situations?
- Simon Tugwell has given his definition of ‘purity of heart’. What is yours?
- What do you think of Shakespeare’s famous passage on mercy?
The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest,
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV Scene I
- Does showing mercy encourage people to take advantage of you?
- How and where have you experienced mercy?
- Should governments demonstrate mercy? How?
- Twice, in Matthew 9:13 and Matthew 12:7, Jesus quotes Hosea’s cry that God desires ‘mercy not sacrifice’. Why is this so important to Jesus?
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Charlotte Margiono, Barbara Bonney, Thomas Hampson, Anton Scharinger; Nicholas Harnoncourt (cond) : “Contessa, perdonno” (Finale) – The Marriage of Figaro (1786); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, (1756-1791)
The Marriage of Figaro was a controversial choice for Mozart to turn into an opera. The play upon which is was based, by the French playwright Beaumarchais, had caused rioting when it was performed in Paris after being banned for six years by Louis XIV: the king had uttered the prophetic warning: “For this play not to be a danger, the Bastille would have to be torn down first”. Five years after the play’s first performance in Paris that is exactly what happened. The play was also banned in Vienna, where the brother of Louis’s wife (Marie Antoinette) was Emperor, but the Emperor was persuaded by Mozart (and his librettist, da Ponte) that the vicious satire which characterised Beaumarchais’s play would be removed.
The first performance of The Marriage of Figaro was vividly recreated in Peter Schaffar’s play Amadeus, later filmed by Milos Forman. In it Mozart’s great rival Salieri is portrayed as the only person able to realise the genius of the opera, that God is speaking to the world through the music of Mozart. This is what Salieri says of the final scene of The Marriage of Figaro (our music clip):
The fourth [act] was astounding. l saw a woman disguised in her maid’s clothes, hear her husband speak the first tender words he’d offered her in years. Simply because he thinks she is someone else. l heard the music of true forgiveness filling the theatre conferring on all who sat there perfect absolution. God was singing through this little man to all the world. Unstoppable.
What is sung
|Contessa, perdono!Più docile io sono, e dico di sì.Ah, tutti contenti saremo così.
Questo giorno di tormenti,
di capricci, e di follia,
in contenti e in allegria
solo amor può terminar.
Sposi, amici, al ballo, al gioco,
alle mine date foco!
Ed al suon di lieta marcia
corriam tutti a festeggiar!
|My Countess, forgive me.I am kinder: I will say “Yes.”Then let us all be happy.
This day of torment,
Of caprices and folly,
Love can end
Only in contentment and joy.
Lovers and friends,
let’s round things off
In dancing and pleasure,
And to the sound of a gay march
Let’s hasten to the revelry.
Has any other piece of music ever moved you to see God at work through its composer?