Church of the Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee
Devotion, March 31, 2020
Read Matthew 5.3-12
A few weeks ago, the Beatitudes were one of the readings for Christian Believer. They are often known as the rules for right living. Tradition tells us that the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew, chapters 5-7, was given by Jesus in what has become the most idyllic sites on the Sea of Galilee. The Church of the Beatitudes and its’ lawns are beautifully landscaped. It is a restful and peaceful place. We sometimes think about the Beatitudes as restful and peaceful. Blessed are….
The Beatitudes that we know are a translation of Greek from the Septuagint or the Greek New Testament. Most likely the Beatitudes were recited in the language of Jesus, Aramaic. Translations of Greek and Aramaic are very different. In the translation of Greek, we have a very linear understanding of words. Concepts like body, mind and soul are separate entities. In Aramaic, the language is more nuanced, full and complex. There are multiple meanings and words are often concepts. In Aramaic, as compared to Greek, you enter into a picture and discussion. In the case of the Beatitudes, the words lead us not to a simple picture of a disciple of Jesus but to a more mature follower of Jesus. In preparing for class, I pulled out one translation of the Beatitudes from the Aramaic. This translation was done by Neil Douglas-Klotz. It reads as follows.
Tuned to the Source are those who live by breathing Unity; their “I can!” is included in God’s.
Blessed are those in emotional turmoil; these shall be united inside by love.
Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within; they shall receive physical vigor and strength from the universe.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for physical justice; they shall be surrounded by what is needed to sustain their bodies.
Blessed are those who, from their inner wombs, birth mercy; they shall feel its warm arms embrace them.
Aligned with the One are those whose lives radiate from a core of love; they shall see God everywhere.
Blessed are those who plant peace each season; they shall be named the children of God.
Blessings to those who are dislocated for the cause of justice; their new home is the province of the universe.
Renewal when you are reproached and driven away by the clamor of evil on all sides, for my sake…
Then, do everything extreme, including letting your ego disappear, for this is the secret of claiming your expanded home in the universe.
For so they shamed those before you.
All who are enraptured, saying inspired things - who produce on the outside what the spirit has given them within.
I share these in the spirit that life is not straightforward these days. We are living in the midst of recreating life as we have known it into something new. There is not one way over another way. There are multiple thoughts about how we are to change to have health and life. It doesn’t seem as easy in the midst of the pandemic as it did a few weeks ago. Perhaps what Jesus teaches us is that the path to living fully in the midst of our circumstances has never been as clear as we have thought. Maybe what Jesus has known along is that conversations along the path are needed, that people see the world differently, and our experiences are interpreted through multiple lenses. In the midst of these understandings we come to a fuller picture of the life that Jesus wants for us.
Eternal God, in these days when everything has been turned upside down, help us to broaden our understanding about our lives and our place in your world. In the moments when we can only see what we have known, broaden our understanding to the possibilities you are trying to place before us. Assure us of your presence as we settle into new ways of living. Amen.