The Beatitudes in Sermon on the Mount

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Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” – Matthew 5:3.

Exegesis for the 1st Beatitude

Blessed are the – The 8 beatitudes begin with 'blessed are the' because this phrase suggests the present condition of well-being and happiness. This statement holds a very powerful meaning of perfect happiness and divine joy to the religious followers who attended the Sermon on the Mount. The word “blessed” expresses a permanent condition of felicity, instead of the passive reception of blessing bestowed by Jesus. Evidently, Jesus was stating that divinely happy and fortunate are those who possess these internal characteristics. While discussing a current “blessedness”, each proclamation additionally promised a future reward.

Poor in spirit – Before Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, many Jews and Romans believed that if someone had many material belongings or were high in power that God favoured them more. For example, a rich person would offer more money to God at the temple then a poor person. Materials depicted a person’s self-wroth. Jesus implied that belonging do not get a person into Heaven. It was very hard for Jesus’ followers to understand His teaching because more many generations they have only known a certain way of life. The religious followers on the Sermon on the Mount are “poor in spirit” since they recognize that they are not independent and that they need God in their lives. In the Scriptures, the poor are viewed as particularly near God because as a result of their total reliance upon Him. They confined and place their trust in God as opposed to worldly power and material belongings. In the Gospel of Matthew, this “blessedness” is stretched out to all individuals, regardless of their worldly status, and who acknowledge their total reliance and dependence on God. To be “poor in spirit” is to be humble, acknowledge their corruption, and to trust more in God than other worldly possessions. The genuinely humble are reasonable of their spiritual destitution, of their sinfulness, and ignorance, and therefore, neither yearn for the admiration of men, nor pine for high material possessions in the world, but are happy with the parcel God allocates them, however poor or low. They are overjoyed because their modesty renders them submissive, teachable, patient, resigned, cheerful, and contented, in all domains; and it empowers them to gain wealth or misfortune, sickness or health, death or life, with an open mindset. Whatever is apportioned them shy of those everlasting burnings which they see they have justified, they consider as effortlessness or grace.

For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven – In the Gospel of Matthew, the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is seen often. In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, the phrase “Kingdom of God” is used. The preferred word “Heaven” was used for the Jewish audience, to obey the 10 Commandments, thus avoiding the sacred name of “God”. When Jesus’ followers on the Sermon on the Mount recognize the power of God over their lives, they understand that He sacrificed Himself for His children because of His love for everyone. If all of His children maintain their faith, they are assured the present of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. In addition, God saw that His children were lost in a world full of sin, so He liberated them through Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross so His children could be renewed through Christian baptism as daughters and sons of God, and become the successors of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is everlasting life lived within the life of the Most Holy Trinity. One can enter the Kingdom of Heaven by living the sacraments that Jesus has shown His children throughout His life time. Jesus’ followers need to respond to God with love, humility, obedience, trust and to sever the Church.

Hermeneutics for the 1st Beatitude

Mother Teresa is a perfect example of how she lived her life following the 1st Beatitude. Mother Teresa had “the call within the call” to help the poor and the hunger citizens of India while living among them. She lived a very simple life, but never complained. Mother Teresa started many charities that helped the naked, hunger, the crippled, the homeless, the lepers, the blind, and everyone who felt uncared and unloved throughout society. In addition, she helped restore the “poorest among the poor’s” faith in God, by caring for the unwanted. Mother Teresa was also preaching the word of God everywhere she went and even said, “I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus”. She also remained Catholics that, “When you have nothing left but God; you have more than enough to start over again”. Evidently, throughout the dying moments of her fellow citizens, she would have them in her arms and comfort them as they took their last breath to ensure them that there is a better place beyond Earth. Mother Teresa was preaching the word of God everywhere she went and even said, “I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus”. Overall, Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping and serving the poor of the world. Her life represents a living example of the Beatitude. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” – Matthew 5:3.

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Passage: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you”. – Matthew 5: 38-42

Exegesis for the Concerning Retaliation Passage

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. – In the times of the old testament the Jews have been in slavery for nearly 400 years; and once Moses led Gods people out of Egypt he taught the people to live a life of fairness and not a life of mercy. This is because the Jews have essentially become savages due to the extreme persecution for nearly 400 years. Their hearts have become as solid as a rock and could not comprehend the concept of mercy and forgiveness. Due to this fact they were told “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Meaning if someone wrongs or hurts another person, that person should be punished by having the same thing done to him or her. The idiom “an eye for an eye” is used to express that the punishment for a criminal or wrongdoer should be the same as the crime or misdeed.

“But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;” – in this passage Jesus discuss the topic of mercy and forgiveness through various real life situations. During this time period the Jewish people believed that a backhand slap was more insulting then a palm slap. Jesus used this example because it is a great way to instruct His followers to take the higher road and demonstrate mercy and compassion upon their enemies. Despite Jesus’ higher level thinking, His followers had an extremely difficult time applying these rules and morals in their day to day life; as they were still used to the law of the Old Testament and were not willing to learn the forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ. However Jesus still pushed the idea of not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, and encouraged His followers to seek the highest good.

“and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;” – In the Old Testament a cloak was much more expensive than a coat. A coat was seen as an inexpensive undergarment; however a cloak was an outer garment and was often times used to keep them warm like a blanket in the night. In fact the Law of Moses states in Exodus 22: 26-27 “if you ever take your neighbours cloak as a pledge you are to return it to him before the sun sets. For that is his only covering it his cloak for his body what else shall he sleep in and it shall come about that when he cries out to me I will hear him for I am gracious”. Here in this passage Jesus declared for His followers that they should not imamate those who use the law or other means to take advantage of others. Instead of demanding their rights or fighting fire with fire Jesus commands His followers to settle these problems peacefully and graciously. Jesus further demands that His followers give more than what is asked form them in hope of winning over the person’s heart.

“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile”. – The historical context to this situation is that the Roman law required an individual from a conquered country to carry a load or pack up to 1 mile on foot if asked by a Roman soldier. This type of service was very unpopular and was hated particularly by the Scribes and Pharisees. However, in this verse Jesus requests His followers to not resist requests for help. In fact He instructs His followers to go the extra mile and never reject those in need. For example, when a Roman soldier told Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry His cross, Simon did it because he wanted to help Jesus.

“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you”. – In this verse Jesus is asking His followers to overcome evil with good. He encourages His followers to become selfless and give graciously to their neighbours. Although, in this verse Jesus is not telling His followers to give everybody everything instead He wants them to be a wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. Jesus requests His followers too never reject anyone in their need for help; in fact he wants all of His followers to become merciful givers.

Hermeneutics for the Concerning Retaliation Passage

Being an advocate against bullying is a perfect example of how children of God followed in His footsteps and took the high road. President Bill Clinton came from modest beginnings. When Mr. Clinton was in junior high, he was bullied persistently for being a “fat band boy” with terrible fashion sense. His fellow classmates ridiculing culminated in a bad occurrence at a junior high dance: an older student taunted Mr. Clinton about his carpenter’s jeans, and also physically assaulting him by punching Mr. Clinton in the jaw. It was as if Mr. Clinton remembered the Matthew 5: 38-42 passage, and did not give the bully what he desired; he chose to stand his ground rather than back down or fight back. Mr. Clinton shares in his memoir, My Life, “I had learned that I could take a hit and that there’s more than one way to stand against aggression.” He persevered through the incident, and decided to look at the bright side of life. Mr. Clinton status as a band geek helped him in the long run, because he became a celebrated and talented saxophone player, in addition to his public service life. It is ironic that Mr. Clinton was once the leader of a great country, but came from modest beginnings and has struggles like every child of God.

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