Walking Our Faith: Happy are we
One afternoon sitting at an outdoor café in Paris, I felt a bit sad, and so I paid my bill and headed across the square to the Louis Vuitton store and bought myself a purse.
That purse sits on a shelf in my closet. Nowadays, I’d feel silly carrying it anywhere in Breckenridge. Thankfully, we live in a low-key town. If you stroll down the aisles of City Market, you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate the billionaires from the regular folks. I like that.
I worked for eight years on the 98th floor of 2 World Trade Center in New York City and used to stand at the tall windows facing uptown and feel like I was on top of the world. Now, I can’t imagine any skyscraper comparing to the beauty of the mountains I see each morning from my bedroom window.
When I lived overseas, the highlight of most evenings was meeting my friends for drinks. For the past year, I’ve been meeting my friends from St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Peace on Zoom at 5 p.m. for evening prayer.
I am tickled pink that my priorities have matured over the decades, especially as I enter my 59th year. But I take no credit for the change. It was God.
I considered myself a “good Christian” during those years in Paris, New York and overseas. I considered myself a good person. But only in the past five years can I point to a transformative relationship with Jesus, which refashioned my incredible selfishness.
That change occurred when I gave my heart and soul to Christ and decided to make him, not myself, the center of my life. And believe me, I enjoy an enormous capacity to be self-centered.
The irony is that Christ only asks us to follow his example: to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Yet in our competitive world, this thinking is considered a sign of weakness.
This morning, I was reading the Beatitudes, found in Chapter 5 of the Gospel of St. Matthew. In the accompanied commentary, Bishop Robert Baron wrote that the Latin noun “beatitudo” translates as happiness or blessedness. I’ve taken the liberty of substituting “happy are” for the more traditional “blessed are.”
“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:
“Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Happy are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Happy are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Happy are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Happy are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
When read with this small alteration, it reveals the radical transformation of life that Christ invites us to. It is an invitation to live from the aspect of love for others, to see the world as God sees it, a place made better by love, forgiveness and humble hearts.
A place where we see empathy as a strength, where lifting those who are in need is done not out of obligation, but to better our community.
I invite you to cut out this amended version of the Beatitudes and tape it on your refrigerator. As you grab the half-and-half for your coffee, ask yourself: Which one of the Beatitudes could be me?
Then choose it. Incorporate it into your life during the final weeks before Easter. Contemplate how God is calling you to transform your life in small ways.
After a few weeks, I believe you may discover, as I have when reflecting on how my life has changed since that afternoon in Paris, that small changes can lead to transformative change and the sumptuous journey God calls us to live.
I’m reading through the Gospels this year. This week, I’m reading Matthew Chapters 13 and 14. Please join me.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” — Matthew 13:31-32, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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