Thursday, November 01, 2007

Something from today's Gospel

As I stood there last night listening to Father Paul proclaim the Gospel at the Vigil Mass a thought struck me. We have all (or at least most of us have) heard these Beatitudes a thousand times and most every time processed them through the same filter. Many of us can probably even repeat them by heart. And each one of us probably has one that we like the most because it appeals to either where we are or where we'd like to be. They're usually sliced and diced up as nine separate, stand-alone concepts wholly intact and unaffected by, although related to, the others.

Have you ever tried to think of them, however, as a coherent whole? Not as a bulleted list of those blessed, not a check-list to see if you get into Heaven, but as a single, unified commandment. Take the list not as a series of "or"s, but as concatenated by "and"s. You don't get to Heaven just by being merciful, nor does being a peacemaker give you the all-access pass, not without living a life consuming all of those categories.

You might think, "well, Mother Teresa is surely in Heaven and she was never insulted or persecuted". For that, I give you only Christopher Hitchens' series of slanders against her as sufficient evidence to the contrary. Truly I tell you this is a single teaching, whole and entire. In breaking it up to get a favorite list we only short-change ourselves the opportunity to be challenged to an even more holy life. Go ahead, read it again as a whole and tell me if your perspective isn't refreshed.