Monday, March 17, 2014

     

The Way and Ways of Blessing                        

 

 Matthew 5:1-9          
 

  

"The great events of world history are at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes history; here alone do the great transformations take place ... in our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and it sufferers, but also its makers." - Carl Jung (1934 Collected Works 10, para. 315 )

 

The Beatitudes, found in the first verses of Matthew 5, are extraordinary. Descriptions of tenuous living conditions experienced by the other 99% of humanity are juxtaposed against a new result, a new hope, and a new life. That these teachings were shared from a mountain gives them the same setting which Moses experienced, but now there are many people. It is a new plurality: not only is Jesus here, but also the disciples and, certainly within hearing, the crowds.

 

The vision described by the Beatitudes might seem a little confusing: an inescapable situation is presented with potential for a new result, but what is left unsaid is how that new result happens. Even the word blessed is unusual, for its counterpart in Greek is full of irony: congratulations. Who would want to be congratulated on such as situation, unless from within that situation one has the opportunity for making change?

 

In our new Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God, in Hymn 769, "For Everyone Born," poet Shirley Murray writes, "and God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace. " The image is one of our active participation in the Work, in taking personal responsibility for Creation, and for its evolution into the Kingdom of God. She continues, "... For everyone a place at the table ..." and gently asks that we take responsibility for seating arrangements.

 

As Carl Jung stated, the opportunity lies within us, being both blessed by the Spirit and fully capable of blessing others. It is a great responsibility, with greater rewards. 
         

James A. Sharpe   

SFTS Director of Advancement Operations
SFTS M.Div. 2000