Blessings of the Way of Peace
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 11 March 2022
Reading: Matthew 5: 1 – 12
In this passage from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sets out the values and characteristics of those who will be blessed by God – not the rich or the carefree, the complacent or the self-righteous – but the poor and the humble, the merciful and those who mourn. It is an extraordinary passage turning upside-down society’s views on what it is that brings happiness.
When I was a student in the 1980’s at Bath University, I was privileged to know a number of remarkable chaplains. One of the chaplains gave me a reading called “The Eight Miserables”, which was a rewriting of Jesus’ beatitudes. I’m not sure whether the chaplain wrote it, or found it elsewhere, but it speaks to me of that upside-down lifestyle – the way of peace - that Jesus calls us to. Here it is.
Miserable are those who crave more and more possessions: they will be crushed by the weight and burden of them.
Blessed are those who are ready to do without, to be empty, to be nothing, to be humble and open to receive, knowing their need of God: they have found the secret of living and are rich indeed.
Miserable are those who wallow in self-pity: they will sink into bitterness and despair.
Blessed are those who accept the experience of sorrow: they will grow in courage and compassion.
Miserable are those, who in their insecurity, look anxiously for appreciation from others: they claim everything for themselves and yet possess nothing, wandering unhappily and belonging nowhere.
Blessed are those who have accepted their insecurity and are content to go unrewarded and unrecognised, claiming nothing for themselves: the freedom of the earth is theirs; never exiled they are everywhere at home.
Miserable are those who have ceased to care and be disturbed and are now too much at ease: they will be bored and will disintegrate into dust.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst and strive for what is just and good: they will be made whole and will be well-content.
Miserable are those who show no compassion and are insensitive to the needs of others: they will always complain of being misunderstood and they will never be loved.
Blessed are those who accept and forgive those who hurt them: they will find understanding and love.
Miserable are those who live in illusion and fantasy: they will be utterly lost.
Blessed are those who are honest with themselves, who are being refined and chastened and seek to live the truth: they will know themselves and they will know God.
Miserable are those who are at war within themselves, who spread evil and division and hatred, seeking to dominate others: they breed their own downfall and they never know trust and friendship.
Blessed are those who create reconciliation and goodwill wherever they go, returning good for evil: they are indeed the friends of God.
Miserable are those whose lives are shallow and full of fear, who cannot respond in truth when they are challenged: they will freeze in death.
Blessed are those who shed their pettiness and know the deep things of God and of themselves and so persevere at whatever the cost: they will have life and know it abundantly.
Song: Let there be peace on earth
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The Prayer of St Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen