Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

January 30, 2011

Justin McCarthy

Junior, Medical Anthropology Major

Zep 2:3; 3:12-13
Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
1 Cor 1:26-31
Mt 5:1-12a

The enormity of today's Gospel is reflected in its popularity. The beatitudes rank among the most frequently cited passages of the New Testament. The word 'blessed' is repeated each verse; it is written nine times. To be blessed is to be endowed with divine favor, to be pleasing in the eyes of God. So essentially, the beatitudes are a prescription of what it is to be pleasing to God. They almost act as an amendment to the 10 commandments, and their calling is counter-cultural. Jesus recognizes this. The second most written word is persecuted, which is to receive ill-treatment or hostility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian, is renowned for his spiritual writings. In his novel, The Cost of Discipleship, he breaks grace down into two categories: costly grace and cheap grace. Cheap grace is what many misperceive as the true grace. It is grace that is given without any effort on our part. We become apathetic in our faith and comfortable in our sin, knowing that our toll has already been paid. Bonhoeffer warns against this, claiming that true grace is earned. Costly grace is grace with sacrifice. We die to ourselves, to our desires, so we can become meek, thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted. To fall under one beatitude is to fall under many.

The blessing and conversely the downfall of the beatitudes is their interdependence. Try being a peacemaker (Matt 5:9) without being merciful (Matt 5:7) or try to thirst for righteousness (Matt 5:6) without being pure in heart (Matt 5:8). By striving to live one beatitude we naturally grow in the other values as well.

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