Be a Beatitude People

(Is 56:1,6-7; Ps 84; Mt 5:1-12a)


 Years ago, former sister Marge Denis, who ministered in the Northwest Territories, produced a slide series entitled the Beatitude People, which I purchased and used extensively in my own ministry.

The readings on this Canada Day, invite us to be a Beatitude people.

The Beatitudes are the Magna Carta of Jesus’ teachings – our basic way of life and conduct in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Canadian Magna Carta, or Great Charter, was created in 1215. It was the first document in English jurisprudence to state the monarch was not above the law and it became the basis for freedom, democracy and rule of law in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, including Canada.

July 1 is celebrated as Canada’s birthday. Canadians should seek to be witnesses to Christ in Canada and the world, and to continue working to influence those in government to act from Christian principles and attitudes.

Christians, realizing they do not have a lasting home here, should pray and work for justice and peace in Canada and throughout the world, so that all God’s people may share in the goods of this earth. God’s kingdom will come only when all people are ready to let Christ’s teaching guide and rule their lives and actions, especially the commandment to love, and the Beatitudes as our way of life.

The Beatitudes are a reversal of the attitudes and values of the world, which are almost consistently an over-attachment to the secondary goods of possessions, prestige, power and pleasure.

To be poor in Spirit, is to be humble. God’s Spirit can only work in humble people, who are willing to let of their false pride. Those who mourn are able to grieve, to let go, to have empathy and compassion for others. The meek or gentle are those who have no need to dominate, to apply force seeking their own selfish ends. How tragic that most of the colonizing nations of the world were Christian nations who sought to dominate and exploit other nations. Somehow, we totally overlooked this beatitude. God never forces or overwhelms anyone – if anything, God always underwhelms us!

The just are those who strive for fairness and honesty, so rare in our society. The merciful are those who are able to forgive all hurts and to apologize, again, a rare feature in our present society where there is so much anger and violence. The pure in heart are those who are able to be single minded, to will the one thing, to not be distracted by the illusory and transient pleasures of the world.

Peacemakers are those who strive for dialogue, communication, understanding, who constantly try to counter the divisive diabolical force in our world. And today’s world sees more people persecuted for their faith, and for the sake of justice, than ever. They stand as bright lights shining in the darkness of a world that has in many ways lost its way.

Politically, I like to think of leaders such as former prime minister Lester B. Pearson and Nelson Mandela as embodying the Beatitudes. Even Jean Chrétien’s comments after 9/11 about needing to understand how colonial policies can drive people to desperate measures, incurring the indignation of some world leaders, was to me a glimmer of the Beatitudes. Today, he would probably ask us to try to understand how the policies of Israel making Gaza the largest outdoor prison in the world, has driven groups like Hamas to take desperate measures to draw the world’s attention to the plight of the Palestinians.

We may be tempted to doubt the power of trying to live the beatitudes, as we may also doubt praying when the evil in the world seems so dominant. Ron Rolheiser’s recent article on praying when it seems useless is relevant here:

“So, how might the demons of violence, division, hatred, war, hunger, global warming, famine, racism, sexism, cancer, heart disease, and the like be cast out by prayer? How is prayer useful in any practical way in the face of these issues?

In brief, prayer doesn’t just change the person who is praying, it also changes the situation. When you pray you are in fact part of the situation about which you are praying. Sincere prayer helps you become the change you are praying to bring about. For example, praying for peace helps you to calm your own heart and bring a more peaceful heart into the world.”

The Eucharist perhaps fits into this scenario of the power of prayer Ron speaks of. It is truly a prayer for the world, as Jesus made clear with his declaration that his flesh is food for the life of the world.

So, let us continue to strive to be a Beatitude people, and a truly Eucharistic people, on this Canada Day.


Updated: July 1, 2024 — 12:33 pm

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