Presentation: Feb 2 and 4 Sunday: Beatitudes Homilies

Stories from Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:


1: "Would you hold my baby for me, please?"

Years ago a young man was riding a bus from Chicago to Miami. He had a stop-over in Atlanta. While he was sitting at the lunch counter, a woman came out of the ladies' restroom carrying a tiny baby. She walked up to this man and asked, "Would you hold my baby for me? I left my purse in the restroom." He did. But as the woman neared the front door of the bus station, she darted out into the crowded street and was immediately lost in the crowd. This guy couldn't believe his eyes. He rushed to the door to call the woman, but couldn't see her anywhere. Now what should he do? Put the baby down and run? When calmness finally settled in, he went to the Traveler's Aid booth and together with the local police, they soon found the real mother. You see, the woman who'd left him holding the baby wasn't the baby's real mother. She'd taken the child. Maybe it was to satisfy some motherly urge to hold a child or something else. No one really knows. But we do know that this man breathed a sigh of relief when the real mother was found. After all, what was he going to do with a baby? In a way, each of us, is in the same sort of situation as this young man. Every Christmas God Himself walks up to us and asks, "Would you hold My Baby for Me, please?" and then thrusts the Christ Child into our arms. And we're left with the question, "What are we going to do with this Baby?" But an even deeper question is just, "Who is this Baby?" If we look at Scripture, we find all kinds of titles and names for this Baby we hold in our arms: Emmanuel, "God-with-us;" Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Christ the King, Jesus. In today’s Gospel describing the presentation ceremony, Simeon asks Mary the question: "Can I hold your Baby for a few minutes, please?" (King Duncan). 


 2:  The sword piercing Mary’s heart: 

There is a beautiful Holman Hunt picture in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City called "The Shadow of Death." It is the only known work of classical art that shows Jesus laboring as an adult in the carpenter's shop. Joseph is absent so we presume he has died. In this painting, a day of work has ended, and Jesus has just risen from his bench and stretches in relaxation. The shadow of his body and upraised arms falls on a rack of tools on the wall, and we see prefigured the "very dying form of one who suffered there for me."  But the most interesting thing about the painting is that in the background we see Mary kneeling before an open chest in which we see the gifts of the three wise men "the gold, frankincense and myrrh."  No doubt as the years went by, Mary watched her son grow to manhood. Now in Joseph's absence, Jesus was supporting the family as a carpenter. Mary might have wondered if God had mocked her with a cruel joke that her Son was the One who would redeem his people. So again and again she would go to the chest and gently touch the gifts, as if to convince herself that the promises were real. This might have been the only concrete contact she had with the golden hopes of thirty years ago. And on this day, as she caresses the golden crown and the casket of frankincense and the vase of myrrh, suddenly she sees on the back wall the shadow of the cross. From that day forth the shadow is ever before her. (Rev. Eric Ritz).  That was the sword that would pierce Mary's soul. Simeon knew what lay ahead. 


 3: “A new refrigerator with a 10 year warranty.” 

An elderly woman in frail health was speaking with her doctor and expressing her hope that she would have the strength to live just a few more months so that she could celebrate the birth of her first grandchild. Sure enough, the day came and the woman was present and well enough to hold the little child in her arms. When the woman went back to her doctor, he suggested that it would be important to set a new goal so that she had something to look forward to, something to “keep her going”. “Well”, the woman pondered, “my son did just buy me a new refrigerator with a 10 year warranty.” Today in Luke’s Gospel we are introduced to a couple of characters who have been waiting for a long time for a promise to be fulfilled. When they see the Child, Anna and Simeon announce to everyone they see that He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to humanity. 

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1.     My eyes have seen your salvation. 

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord — observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord:

Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord — and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’


As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected — and a sword will pierce your own soul too — so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

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John Littleton
Reflection


Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after our celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The feast is also known as Candlemas Day because the blessing and procession of candles is included in the Mass. Jesus Christ is the light of the nations, ‘the light to enlighten the pagans’ (Lk 2:32). That is why we have the blessing and procession of candles on this day.

The Presentation of the Lord brings to an end the celebration of the Nativity — although Christmas officially ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In obedience to the Law, as was customary with first-born male children, Jesus was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem by his mother, Mary, and his foster father, Joseph.

Through the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, Jesus was revealed and acknowledged as the Messiah. A similar acknowledgement had occurred when the wise men knelt in adoration during their visit to the newborn infant Jesus (see Mt 2).

But Simeon’s prophecy to Mary about Jesus was distressing: ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected’ (Lk 2:34). The prophecy leads our thoughts away from the Incarnation, with an emphasis on God becoming human in Jesus Christ, towards the Paschal Mystery, which emphasises the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

Over the preceding centuries, many prophets had longed to see the Messiah. But they had died without realising their greatest desire. Simeon and Anna were truly blessed to meet the Saviour of the world, even if the meeting was tinged with sadness because of their predictions about the future events in his life. We too are blessed because we are privileged to know that we have been saved from the consequences of our sins.

Simeon and Anna used their time well because they spent most of it in the Temple praising God. There is an important lesson here for us. It is relatively easy to spend time in God’s presence — simply because God is always with us. We are not required to be in the Temple or in a church or in another designated sacred space. We can be in God’s presence wherever and whenever we choose and, enlivened and encouraged by God’s presence, we can be witnesses to Jesus Christ who is the light of the world.

The tradition of lighting candles in our homes as a sign that Christ is the light of the world is one practical custom that we could easily initiate to focus our attention on him being at the centre of this wonderful feast and at the centre of our lives.

Finally, on today’s feast, all families can learn the value of giving thanks to God for the gift of children and can seek his blessing on their lives and work. Enlightened by the brightness of Christ, let us re-dedicate ourselves to God, confident that he never abandons us.
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2.     Father Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL

Becoming a Light to the Nations 

Purpose:  The Feast of the Presentation is also traditionally when we celebrate the purification of Mary, so that she could re-enter the temple. It is also the evening when the Church celebrates, for the last time, the coming of the light into the world with Candlemas. At Candlemas we see in the imagery of the candles, the light of Christ, which we are all called to carry, and bring throughout the world, to scatter the darkness, and become a warming light to all humanity. Yet, to become a light to the nations, we must begin by purifying ourselves (as seen in the first reading), so that Christ’s light burns brightly within us, and can radiate through us to all whom we meet. 

At Christmas and Epiphany, we celebrate the coming of the Son of God in the flesh, with his revelation to humanity. These great feasts recall the great gift of God to the world: His light, which is the light of eternal life that brings humanity warmth and clarity of meaning and purpose, through our union with Christ Jesus—the light. This great gift of light brings joy and happiness to us all, because it means that human life has dignity, value, direction, and purpose. We see in the act of gift-giving at Christmas the greater gift of God’s light that brings joy to us all. At Epiphany, or “Little Christmas,” we see the gifts of the Magi, which signify the purpose for which Christ was born, to become a sacred offering, die, and become the gift more valuable than the most precious gifts of this world. It is this reality, the gift of the presence of Christ Jesus in this world, that we have been celebrating since Christmas and, in a special way, we conclude that celebration today by receiving the light of Christ.

St. Teresa of Avila describes our interior spiritual life using the image of a mansion or castle. Each of us, as human beings, are complicated and complex persons with a biography full of experiences, good and bad, as well as our own thoughts on how to live our life, and the desires we have for our life. Our influences, thoughts, and desires all contribute to the way we live out our life, and how we allow Christ Jesus to be a part of our life. Jesus is the light that illumines the many rooms in the great mansion of our souls. He is the source of warmth, which gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, and clarity, which gives us direction, for our lives. Yet, all too often our biography—the events and people that have influenced our lives—our thoughts and our desires keep us from receiving the light of Christ.

The Prophet Malachi foretells the coming of the great refiner who will purify us so that we may be able to offer true sacrifice to the Lord. “Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD”. The usage here of “Judah” and “Jerusalem” by the prophet do not merely signify a sacrifice offered by a united nation of God’s chosen people, but a sacrifice offered by the “head”(Judah) and the “heart”(Jerusalem) in union with one another. Judah was the fourth son in the line of Joshua. The region of Judah is where David, the King, first ruled from the city of Bethlehem. The Kingdom of Judah could symbolically be seen to be the head of the body of the chosen people of God. Jerusalem is the heart of worship for the people of God. It is in Jerusalem that the temple exists, and it is at the temple that the people of God bring forth their sacrifices for union with their God. Jesus is of the tribe of Judah, the new King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, who has come to Jerusalem to bring true peace and unity for humanity with God, through his sacrifice wrought on the Cross. This peace and unity brings peace to the heart and the mind, because it is through the peace of Christ that his light brings warmth to the heart, and clarity to the mind.

Today, on the feast of the Presentation, we celebrate receiving the light of Christ within our head and heart, so that peace and harmony can come to our lives. The reality is that in living in this world, the mansion that is our soul is full of rooms that contain darkness and dim light. When we act like Mary—who was in no real need for purification before entering the temple—we offer ourselves in obedience to God’s will and, in so doing, find that Christ’s light scatters that darkness, providing us the warmth and clarity that we desire. Obedience is the un-bloody sacrifice that we are all called to, every day of our lives. It is through obedience to the will of God that we find—although at times it may seem very challenging—that we grow in greater unity with God, bringing light and joy to our lives.

The more we live this purifying obedience to the will of God, and receive his refining and warming light in our lives, the more we become a light of Christ to the world. On this feast day, we witness Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus to the temple to receive the light of God in his life. But truly it is not to Jesus that the light is given, but Jesus is the light who is received. Mary and Joseph may be presenting Jesus to the temple, but it is really Jesus presenting himself to Mary, Joseph, Simeonh and Anna so that they may receive his light, and proclaim it to the nations.

It is our duty today to receive that same light of Christ in our lives in order to become great beacons radiating its warming and clarifying light to all people.

3.     Connections: 

THE WORD:

The Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord is observed on February 2, forty days after Christmas.  This ancient feast celebrates the faithful, devout parents of Jesus fulfilling two requirements of the Law:

The Book of Exodus required a first-born son to be formally “presented” to God because the first-born sons “belong” to the Lord who saved them when the Egyptian first-born perished at the Passover (Exodus 13: 15). 

Under Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12: 2-8), a woman was ritually “unclean” for forty days after childbirth, unable to touch anything sacred or enter the temple area.  At the end of this period, she was to present herself to the priests and offer a sacrifice of thanks – for a poor couple like Mary and Joseph, the offering was two pigeons or doves. 

Luke’s Gospel (and today’s solemnity) emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple rather than Mary’s purification.  In Luke’s account, Jesus was welcomed into the Temple by two venerable elderly people, Simeon and the widow Anna.  For Luke, the two are icons of the faithful Jew—the “remnant” (Zephaniah 3:12) who awaits the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel’s covenant of justice and compassion with God.  Simeon recognizes Jesus as the Anointed of the Lord and his canticle (the Nunc Dimitis, prayed at the close of the day at Compline in the Liturgy of the Hours) prophesies that this Child will be a “light for revelation to the Gentiles.”  In blessing the parents, he warns that this child will be a sign opposed and that Mary will be pierced with a sword. It is the first indication of the cross Christ will take up to realize the salvation of humankind.  Anna, as an elderly widow, is considered among the most vulnerable and poor of society.  Her encounter with the child typifies the theme woven throughout Luke's Gospel: the exaltation of society's poorest and most humble by God.

Inspired by the words of the Simeon’s canticle, by the 11th century, the custom developed in the West of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation (which became popularly known as Candlemas).  The candles were then lit, and a procession took place through the darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung.   

HOMILY POINTS:

To raise a child is an experience of both incredible joy and devastating heartbreak.  Every parent’s life is “pieced” with turmoil, disappointment, illness, desperation, and fear.  Certainly every mom and dad knows what Mary and Joseph went through.  Within our families, our sons and daughters embrace and are embraced by the love we have known and seek to know better, to be grasped by the hand of God who has grasped us by the hand.   

The prophet Simeon proclaims that this Child will be a “light” for Israel — but that light will endure great suffering and pain before finally shattering the darkness.  Luke’s Gospel of the Child Jesus reminds us that the crib is overshadowed by the cross, that this holy birth is the beginning of humankind’s rebirth in the Resurrection.  

In baptism, we incorporate our children into the life of the Risen Christ; within our home, we try to guide them in learning the Gospel values of compassion, love, forgiveness, justice and peace that we have embraced.  Our celebration of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple calls us to recommit ourselves to giving our sons and daughters the best that we have -- our faith in the God who loves us -- so that they may grow “and become strong, be filled with wisdom; and the favor of God upon them.”  

Anna and Simeon live among us today in our own families and communities and "temples."  They inspire gratitude and teach compassion by the lessons of their long lives.  In the wisdom that comes with age, in the love and care they extend to us in their grace and joy, in their faith that has been made strong and unshakable through a lifetime of struggle, the Anna’s and Simeon’s of our time and place are rays of God’s light shining through all of our lives, illuminating the way to God's eternal dwelling place.  

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4. Andrew Greeley:
  
Background:
Jesus patently did not see himself as a political and military leader. Indeed his claims are in striking contrast of the messianic portrait in the reading from Jeremiah which is the first reading today. 

 However, his claims were clearly offensive to his fellow townspeople. Indeed, he might have had less trouble with them if he announced, like several other populist leaders of his era, that he was proclaiming a holy war against the Romans and would lead a march on Jerusalem. 

 As we saw last Sunday, however, his vision of the New Age was drastically different. So he was offensive to his neighbors both because he made and outrageous claim and because the claim was not, as they saw it, radical enough. 

Story:
 A famous novelist came back to his home town after many years.

  He had pledged to contribute two million dollars for a new hospital. Many of his friends from his school days were invited to a reception for him and his wife. Some of them ignored the invitation. Why only two million, they muttered. He could have paid for the whole hospital with all the money he has. The rest went to the party, but they were not particularly happy about the whole event. Who does this guy think he is?

 He’d been a quiet, unobtrusive little guy when he was in school, the kind of person you’d hardly notice. He generally was not invited anywhere. None of the women in his class would have considered dating him if they had been asked, only he never asked. They had heard rumors that his novels were about the town and about them. They believed the rumors of course, but since they hadn’t read any of his books, they didn’t know for sure. He had to find a freshman to take to the senior prom! So he’d made a lot of money on his novels? Why did that make him a big deal? OK give the money for the hospital, but you should have given more with all you have, but don’t show up in town and expect us to cheer for you. You’re not a big deal now and you never were. Nor were they impressed with the beautiful woman he had married. (They had known her as an obnoxious freshman.) Anyone can look beautiful if her husband has a lot of money. She was still cheap despite all their money. They didn’t join the receiving line, because they didn’t want to have to talk to either of them. However, he had the nerve to walk around the room and say hello to everyone and recall incidents from their school days which they never remembered. They tried to be polite but it was very hard. Then they went home and said to their children. 

  He’s not a big deal. He never was.

5.     Sermons.com: Matthew 5:1-12 - "The True Nature of Happiness"
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Some years ago the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer published an article entitled: "How Do You Measure Up As A Man? The article stated that some extensive research had been conducted on the 20th century standards for measuring a man. The criteria were quite interesting and I thought that I might list them for the men here this morning just to see how they measure up.

1. His ability to make and conserve money (That lets me out already).
2. The cost, style and age of his car.
3. (This is my favourite) How much hair he has.
4. His strength and size.
5. The job he holds and how successful he is at it.
6. What sports he likes.
7. How many clubs he belongs to.
8. His aggressiveness and reliability.

Jesus Christ also once set down eight principles for the measure of a person. His standards stand in stark contrast to the aforementioned. There would appear to be a wide gulf between the popular image of the successful person and what God sees as the successful person.

Here's what happened: Jesus had just started his ministry and was gaining in popularity. Large crowds were gathering. He had just picked out his disciples. And in the quiet of the rolling grassy hills of northern Israel by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus delivered a sermon to a multitude. Acres and acres of human faces. The crowd represented a cross section of humanity...

"Mushers" and people who travel by dog sled over snowy, frozen terrain. "Mushers" have a saying: "If you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes."

That "Mushers" saying has become a centerpiece doctrine of the leadership literature that has been inundating the corporate and church worlds of the last thirty years. If you are not the "top dog," in other words, no matter how far you travel your journey is just going to be a "tale of tails."  

Striving to be "top dog" is the goal we are encouraged to achieve from our earliest childhood to our graduate school education. No one wants to be the "under dog" or the "low dog." Being "on top" means getting the best grades in school, in order to get the best opportunities, the best treatment, the best salary, the bst office, the best seats in the house, the best table, the best of everything everywhere you go. Who could possibly not see the advantages that come with being at the "top" and not the "bottom" of the heap? 

In 1897 vision scientist and psychologist George M. Stratton (1865-1957) created a pair of glasses that turned the world upside down. Actually, he turned the world right-side-up because our eyes project an image to our brains that is naturally upside down. Our brains take an image and invert it - giving us our "right side up" perception of the world. Stratton strapped on his goggles and proceeded to blunder into things for several days. In this new, now "upside-down" world, his brain was seeing liquids "poured up," he saw himself walking on ceilings. Everything he viewed was completely inverted.

But only for a few days. Our eyes are our cameras, but the pictures we take with our eyes are developed by our brains. After a few days Stratton recorded that his most powerful visual organ, his brain, had figured out that something was amiss. After a few days his brain re-inverted the images it was receiving, and the world no longer looked upside down to the scientist. His brain completely flipped the images and presented him with a right-side up world once again. The process took about three days...
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ILLUSTRATIONS:

1.     Having Lost All, All Is Found

"Having reached the end of the Beatitudes, we naturally ask if there is any place on this earth for the community which they describe. Clearly, there is one place, and only one, and that is where the Poorest, Meekest, and most sorely Tried of all men is to be found - on the cross at Golgotha. The community which is the subject of the Beatitudes is the community of the crucified. With Him it has lost all, and with him it has found all."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
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2.     Balance: The Law of Love

Plato once imagined the spiritual journey as a chariot moving through the wilderness of life, with the soul as the charioteer trying to rein in two powerful horses: the horse of anger or passion, and the horse of reason or order. Plato understood that both passion and reason can be life-giving, but only when they are held in dynamic tension, only when each power neutralizes the potential destruction of the other. This morning Jesus tells us that we must balance the passion of anger with the discipline and reason of love. And he tells us that the law of love can best be fulfilled, not through rules, but through relationships.

Susan R. Andrews, The Offense Of Grace, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
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3.     The Key to the Beatitudes 

The idea of being poor in spirit is the key to all that is to follow in the Beatitudes. I like the note in the Life Application Bible:

"You cannot mourn without appreciating how insufficient you are to handle life in your own strength.
You cannot be meek unless you know you have needed gentleness yourself.
You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness if you proudly think of yourself as already righteous.
You cannot be merciful without recognizing your own need for mercy.
You cannot be pure in heart if your heart is full of pride.
You cannot be a peacemaker if you believe that you are always right.
You cannot identify with Christ in the face of negative reactions from others without dying to yourself and renouncing your own rights."
All of these beatitudes are rooted in humility, being poor in spirit.

Owen Stepp, Unlikely Blessings
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4.     God Shows Through

One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, there's something about the preacher's message this morning that I don't understand." The mother said, "Oh? What is it?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the whole world in His hand. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that's true, honey." "But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?" Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"

That is what the beatitudes are about - God showing through.
Jerry Shirley, When God Shows Through 

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5.     God Means Everything

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

William Barclay says this verse means, "Blessed is the man who has realized his own utter helplessness, and who has put his whole trust in God. If a man has realized his own utter helplessness, and has put his whole trust in God, there will enter into his life two things....

He will become completely detached from things, for he will know that things have not got it in them to bring happiness or security; and he will become completely attached to God, for he will know that God alone can bring him help, and hope, and strength.

The man who is poor in spirit is the man who has realized that things mean nothing, and that God means everything."

Mickey Anders, The Beatitudes Are Not Platitudes!
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6.     "Best All Around"

I remember in high school having the "Who's Who" for my grade, and one of the categories was "Best All Around." To be considered for this category, the student needed to have a multitude and a wide variety of attributes...and be good at them. Characteristics like being smart, friendly, well-dressed, pretty/handsome, good at sports, and perhaps being musically gifted or artistic are important to have if you want to qualify for the category.

Similarly, if you could make the Beatitudes as a sort of checklist for Christians, they could see the areas they need to improve in. Perhaps if they could check all of the Beatitudes off the list, they might qualify as a sort of "Best All Around" Christian, a great inspiration and role model.

Jim Forest, The Ladder of the Beatitudes
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7.     Better than Average 

A while back, I read that 85% of all drivers in America consider themselves "above-average" drivers. Of course, this cannot be true: By definition, I believe only 49% of drivers are above average. However, the survey gives us an insight into human nature: People generally view themselves as better than others. And if they are better than others, then they are doing a good enough job.

This transfers over into religion far more than we are aware, and it becomes apparent in how these Beatitudes are taught. Often one will hear, "The message of the Beatitudes is that, if I do these things well enough, then I will be happy. If I am good enough at these things, then I will be blessed." It's a human standard of measure: "If I am better at this than average, then I'm in good shape." But does this work for sainthood?

Tim Pauls, What It Takes to Be a Saint
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8.     You Can't Make It "By The Book"

A small parable: Once upon a time, there was a company who had two junior executives. One did everything by the book, was diligent and trustworthy, always made sure he was covered and, since he always went by the book, rarely made mistakes. The other also was a hard and diligent worker, but he often tested the rules, sometimes received some criticism, and sometimes made mistakes. One day an opening came up for a senior executive position, and the owner of the company promoted the one who made mistakes over the other. Of course Mr. "By the Book" was enraged and asked his boss why - after all, he had a better record, didn't he? He NEVER made mistakes. He ALWAYS followed the book. To which his boss replied, "Yes, but what will you do someday when something comes up that isn't covered by the book. You know the rules, but he knows what we are doing here, and why we are here. He UNDERSTANDS the company. And that's why he was promoted over you."

How do we obtain God's blessing? Well, the answer, of course, is that it's not something we obtain - it's not for sale. It's something he has already freely given to you, but which you can only recognize when you accept it as a gift, and live in it.

Gary Roth, All of God's Blessings
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9.     Healthy Are the Poor in Spirit 

Some years ago a panel of doctors was appointed by the Federal government to meet together and draw up eight laws of public health that could be printed in pamphlet Form and distributed to the public. After twelve days off exhaustive meetings, the doctors were unable to come to a consensus. It seems that their areas of concern were so diverse: one was a cancer specialist, one a cardiologist, one a psychiatrist, and they all approached the problem from their own discipline. The chest expert was concerned about coal dust from the mines and lint from textile mills, while the psychiatrist was concerned about the effects off urban stress. Finally, Dr. Harold Sladen offered Hospital in Detroit came up with an appropriate idea. He said: Let's just republish the eight beatitudes of Jesus and simply replace the word "Blessed" with the words "healthy."

Staff, Sermons.com
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10.  Blessed Are the Cheese Makers 

Here is the infamous bit from Monty Pythons "Life of Brian." All great humor must have one essential element: Truth. This bit certainly has that. Jesus' words when misunderstood has led to some pretty fantastic conclusions. And so, this is dedicated to all those knuckle headed interpretations throughout the years. There are two main characters in the bit who are called Trouble and Bignose. They are at the back of the crowd when Jesus is giving the Sermon On The Mount:

Trouble: Well go and talk to him somewhere else... I can't hear a bloody thing.
Bignose: Don't you swear at my wife.
Trouble: I was only asking her to shut up so I could hear what he was saying, Bignose.
Bignose wife: Don't you call my husband Bignose.
Trouble: Well he has got a big nose.
Jew: Could you be quite, please. What was that?
Trouble: I don't know... I was too busy talking to Bignose.
Man: I think it was 'Blessed are the cheese-makers'...