1. “Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” So-called common sense or the best of logic would never suggest that happiness could be derived from mourning. But Jesus did not refer to outward or ostentatious mourning. He alluded to an emotional attitude of tenderheartedness. It is a great error to teach boys and young men that it is unmanly to show tenderness or otherwise to give evidence of emotional feeling or physical suffering. Sympathy is a worthy attribute of the male as well as the female. It is not necessary to be calloused in order to be manly. This is the wrong way to create courageous men. The world’s great men have not been afraid to mourn. Moses, the mourner, was a greater man than either Samson or Goliath. Moses was a superb leader, but he was also a man of meekness. Being sensitive and responsive to human need creates genuine and lasting happiness, while such kindly attitudes safeguard the soul from the destructive influences of anger, hate, and suspicion.
2. “Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Mercy here denotes the height and depth and breadth of the truest friendship— loving-kindness. Mercy sometimes may be passive, but here it is active and dynamic— supreme fatherliness. A loving parent experiences little difficulty in forgiving his child, even many times. And in an unspoiled child the urge to relieve suffering is natural. Children are normally kind and sympathetic when old enough to appreciate actual conditions.
3. “Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Many Jews are longing for military deliverance, not for peacemakers. But Jesus’ peace is not of the pacifying and negative kind. He has said, “My peace I leave with you.” “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This is the peace that prevents ruinous conflicts. Personal peace integrates personality. Social peace prevents fear, greed, and anger. Political peace prevents race antagonisms, national suspicions, and war. Peacemaking is the cure of distrust and suspicion. Children can easily be taught to function as peacemakers. They enjoy team activities; they like to play together. Said the Master at another time: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life shall find it.”
4. “Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” So often persecution does follow peace. But young people and brave adults never shun difficulty or danger. “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.” And a fatherly love can freely do all these things—things which brotherly love can hardly encompass. And progress has always been the final harvest of persecution.
And so it is revealed that the beatitudes of this epic sermon are based on faith and love, rather than strict laws. He is instructing his apostles in the rigors of fatherly love. This love delights in returning good for evil—doing good in retaliation for injustice.
Other comments made by Jesus during this ordination:
ON SELF-DEVELOPMENT: The greatest motivation is not fear of doing wrong, but love of doing good. Introspection is not part of Jesus’ method, but is not forbidden as a means of preventing conceited egoism.
ON POLITICS: Jesus has forbidden his apostles to allow their spiritual mission to become in any way involved in political issues.
ON SOCIAL ISSUES: Jesus made it clear that indiscriminate charity could possibly result in undesirable consequences. He instructed that apostolic funds were not to be given in alms unless he so directed, or at least two apostles petitioned for such alms.
ECONOMICS: Jesus is not an economic reformer. He seeks to make all men aspire to be Godlike, and thus solve their own political, social and economic problems. He did not denounce wealth itself, but its effect upon its devotees.
PERSONAL RELIGION: Jesus seems to advocate a superb self-respect. Courage is at the core of all his teachings. Jesus stated that he valued the whole life, not just a few special virtues. The heart of Jesus’ religion consists in the acquirement of a compassionate character coupled with the desire to do the will of God.
(Extract from Chronicle of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
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