When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
One of the best known and beloved passages in scripture, “The Beatitudes” appear in Matthew’s Gospel as the opening lines of the Sermon on the Mount. There is no suggestion that the “sermon” was something delivered at one time and in one place. Rather, it is clearly a collection of Jesus’ sayings, compiled and edited so as to appear as a single oration. These are sayings that were preserved in the oral tradition for decades until they were finally written down by Matthew toward the end of the first century. “The Beatitudes” have been translated in various ways. One popular version has Jesus saying “Happy are the poor in spirit . . . Happy are those who mourn . . . Happy are the meek . . .,” etc. Another popular writer refers to these verses as the “Be-Happy Attitudes.” In any case, this week’s sermon will explore the meaning of “blessing.” And we will think about the particular list of “blessed” people that Jesus offers: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, etc., etc.
What does it mean to “bless” someone or something? What does it mean to “be blessed”?
Why do you think Matthew begins the Sermon on the Mount with “The Beatitudes”? What effect does this have on the rest of the “sermon”?
Relate the details of a time when you felt blessed.
Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian