I have taken the liberty of re-wording the Beatitudes in order to get at their meaning. Jesus, the Risen Christ, lives among us today. He is asking us to sit down on a high mountain so He can teach us the values of his Kin-dom. Listen to what he is saying with the eyes and ears of your heart:
When you bottom out and fall into your own nothingness, God can reign in your life.
When you suffer loss and feel completely drained, God then dwells deep in your hearts.
When you are humble (of the earth—humus) and meek, Christ life and power within you will give you all that you need and more.
When you hunger and thirst for God’s justice—right order, right relationships, you will be in harmony with God, one another and all of creation.
When you care for others, you will be cared for.
When your hearts are clean and focused on God, you will find God-life and God-power deep within you and everywhere you look.
When you make peace, you overcome competition, greed and strife and become beloved children.
When you are committed to these Gospel values, you will be spurned, shunned and even persecuted, sometimes even within your own Church.
When you discomfort the comfortable, they will strike back. Be glad. You are living the Gospel.
Rejoice always. Again I say rejoice! You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
These core Gospel values are what Rabbi Michael Lerner calls The Left Hand of God. The right hand is all about power, domination, exploitation, prestige, pride, status, looking out for number one, security, recognition, and the accumulation of wealth. The right hand has always been symbolized by me in terms of John Paul Getty’s, “The meek will inherit the earth but not its mineral rights!” Unfortunately, many “believers” in many churches this very day will hear the Prosperity Gospel—go to church, say your prayers and God will bless you with security and material abundance.
The left hand is about the Sermon on the Mount—the spiritual values set forth in the Beatitudes. These values are the wisdom of those who appear to be foolish and the power of the weak. These values usher in the ultimate reversal called the Kin-dom. The right hand is about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, providing medical care for the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and declaring a Jubilee Year of wealth re-distribution—the Anti-Prosperity Gospel.
Larry Gillick, SJ says that Jesus is talking not about the what or how of our faith but rather about the WHY of our faith. Faith is not about carefully crafted creedal statements (the what). Faith is not about church structures and routines (the how). Faith is above all about our relationship with God in the Risen Christ through the power of the Spirit (the WHY).
David Steindl-Rast reminds us that faith is ultimate trust we place in God. We trust that the God breath and God power coursing through us and all of creation is purifying our hearts and bringing us into closer relationship with God, one another, and all of creation. Faith is a gamble; we cannot hedge our bets.