The Be (happy) Attitudes

Scripture     Matthew 5:1-12


             When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after

                     he sat down, his disciples came to him.

                Then he began to speak and taught them, saying:  Blessed are …



Once again we gather as a Christian community to hear proclaimed Jesus’ sermon on the mountain. How familiar this “eightfold path” to holiness of life has become for us. In these times of so much personal and social stress, dis-ease and dysfunctionality, we are invited to ponder and probe anew these Beatitudes of Jesus of Nazareth. Each ‘beatitude’ holds a practical wisdom and insight into human nature and manifests how the workings of grace can influence our daily reality. Once we bring them to prayer and allow our own personal needs to surface before them, we will be transformed. We will hear the ‘call’ to change our attitudes. Our contemplation of the Beatitudes over the years can lead us to a deeper faith in God and a happier existence in whatever our present moment brings. Yes, even this side of eternity, we can be HAPPY!


Be (happy) Attitude #1    “I need help - I can’t do it alone!”


If we were to reflect upon our life journey, we can see how we have been moved from that radical undergoing of our poverty of spirit … to one day, coming to embrace and live already in the fullness of the kingdom of God. In the beginning, we needed to become aware of our own unique ‘poverty of spirit’. We acknowledged it openly to ourselves. We admitted we were poor, vulnerable, human, needy, limited! It just is that way for all of us! This ‘poverty’ is integral to our humanity. We surrendered into it. Submitted to it. Embraced it wholly as part of the great spiritual adventure. And then we started to experience inwardly how God came to meet us in our littleness, brokenness and fragility. God chose what was weak, what was foolish and those who had nothing … and he filled them with his Great Love. Once we came into the ‘blessedness’ of this ‘poverty of spirit’ we were freed to live the rest of our lives in a carefree trust and dependence upon God. No longer are we driven to excel, to control everything, to be perfect, to depend always upon ourselves, and try harder to be okay… only to become exhausted at its futility to succeed at bringing us any real genuine happiness. We are not alone on this journey!  ‘Behold, I am with you, always.”


Be (happy) Attitude #2    “I’m really hurting - but I’m going to bounce back!”

The beatitude of comfort for the mourning is so needed in our times. For those who have been struck with many losses, and felt the anguish and tears of deep sorrow… be it from the loss of loved ones in death, or the loss of a marriage or a career or a life dream … be patient, for you will meet your God! God will come to heal and restore your wounded emotional life. We need to be reminded that God does come and lift us up and out of our despair and hopelessness. God comes restoring calm and giving us courage to move ahead. In time, we are introduced to new companions and make new commitments that are life-giving. Remarkably, the mourning ones come into rejoicing! They find their way through the grieving process and come forth into a renewed inner place of peace and restorative comfort. They know ‘blessedness’ and are happy. “Your tears will be turned into dancing.”


Be (happy) Attitude #3    “I’m going to remain cool, calm and corrected.”

The meek will inherit the earth. It is important to understand meekness as an inner strength that frees us to take a non-violent action even in the face of great injustice. Meekness controls anger and expresses it in a way that is appropriate, proportionate and never destructive. Meekness is the strength to resist reacting violently when under attack. Meekness is choosing in true freedom a response to a difficult situation. Instead of responding to a threatening, confrontational difficult situation with anger and hostility … pray for grace of meekness. Meekness is not apathy, nor is it passivity that accepts injustice. There is a ‘power’ in meekness that the violent cannot understand. It is ‘blessedness’.  Pray to stay grounded within when ‘hostility’ attacks from the outside. “Learn from Me for I am meek and gentle of heart.”


Be (happy) Attitude #4     “I really want to do the right thing!”

To hunger and thirst for righteousness means to really desire the total right order which goes with God’s establishment of the kingdom – including the right ordering of our own personal lives. The disorder and injustice in society are rooted in distortions of the truth within me. Inner alienation or separation from God’s plan manifests itself in the chaos of our families, communities … the world. We violate justice by untruth. We might be nudged to spend time this week confronting ‘the lie’ within ourselves: check out those distortions, exaggerations, embellishing stories, mis-statements, half-truths, denials and outright lies. When we confront the hypocrisy within, we will be set free! Our ‘shadow self’ comes into the light and we find ourselves moving back into balance and harmony and right-ordered relationships. God cares for us in our disorder and need… and comes to be Emmanuel –one with us - as we move towards true justice on the earth with all peoples.


Be (happy) Attitude#5  I’m going to treat others the way I want others to treat me.”

Once we have been touched by God’s mercy we more easily lay down our ‘stone-throwing’ actions. The former ways that we blocked mercy were through our exclusivism, separation, rejection, prejudices, favoritism and alienation. These can all shift to a new interior disposition that moves us towards mercy, forgiveness, care, compassion, sympathy and empathy. Having experienced ‘divine mercy’ we can’t help but reach out in a circle of mercy that radiates through families, neighborhoods, community meetings… the whole human family. No one is left out. Everyone belongs. This is not being ‘soft’ but is rather the great balancer with justice. “Be compassionate as my Father is compassionate.” 


Be (happy) Attitude #6     “I’ve got to let the faith flow free through me.”


The pure of heart can ‘see God’ in all the happenings of daily life. The process of growth and recovery into the likeness of Christ requires learning alternative ways of thinking, feeling and acting that parallel the addictive and codependent ways we learned in the first half of our life. Becoming pure of heart is an ongoing process that requires daily vigilance and monitoring the purity of our intention in our words and actions.  If you can, name the ‘false gods’ that are claiming your heart’s attention. Allow Jesus to get inside your heart and unmuddy the source of life within you.  “Search me, O God and know my heart.”


Be (happy) Attitude #7      “I’m going to be a bridge builder.”

The Hebrew greeting, ‘shalom’ wishes you harmony with yourself, with nature, with God. May you have the fullness of happiness - beatitude living! To be a peace-maker for others, we must first make peace within ourselves. We must become receivers of the Peace of Christ. The disorder-creators look like this:  if inside we are disturbed, agitated and perturbed, or we are still carrying a bundle of emotional wounding – repressed and festering wounds – we will be restless and in turmoil, non-accepting of self. Then we can only bring chaos and conflict into our relationships and workplace. The peace-makers look like this: having found serenity from living in God’s peace, we have become sons and daughters of God living through the trials and struggles of life on the grace and energy of God’s abiding peace within. Can we not marvel at those peace-makers today who bravely face hardship, suffering, hostility, persecution, even terrorism and wars... and do not retaliate in kind!  “My peace I give unto you.”


Be (happy) Attitude #8        “I can choose to be happy -anyway!”

There is a vast difference between being persecuted for fidelity to the Way of Jesus and being persecuted for our own selfish, paranoid and unfree human condition. Those persecuted for living and declaring God’s Word expect to be persecuted… they are breaking the old order and this causes hostility and hatred. Opposition and misunderstandings are ‘signs’ of authentic discipleship. The Christian, living ever more deeply the life on intimate union with Jesus, moves away from his/her false adapting self… into one’s true authentic self … and this provokes protest from those around us and within our culture. ‘If a person would be more adaptable to what humanity wants, then that person wouldn’t be in all this trouble.” This is the cost of integrity and fidelity:the true follower is not concerned with human respect and human approval. God grants the constancy, the faithfulness and the perseverance… even the joy in bearing with persecution.                                                 


(Headings taken from Robert Schuller, The Be (happy) Attitudes, 1985)

Carrying Grace     These eight positive attitudes can transform and balance our lives. Let’s Be-happy!



#1 arletteh 2011-01-30 19:20
What a treasure, this reflection on the Be-happi-tudes! And how beautifully practical the titles! #1: Blessed are the poor!”“ Poverty is integral to our humanity.” No use fighting it! Embracing it is part of the adventure! #2 From Rainer M. Rilke: “Be patient with everything that lies on your heart Unresolved!” #3”Choose in true freedom!” #4 Choose right order, including right order within. #5 “Everyone belongs!” That reality takes a lot of adjusting to! #6To be pure of heart, I must name the false gods within me, so that the faith may flow through me. #7Being a peace- maker: with prayer, I come to live through the trials of life on the “grace and energy of God’s abiding peace within.” What a balm to the soul! #8 A true self does not accommodate itself to what inside, it comes to know is false---- With much gratitude again!

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