Freedom, the Beatitudes and My Life
Our nation has a wonderful tradition of freedom. There are few examples of countries who have offered themselves up to maintain the freedom of others. Perhaps the most essential expression of the greatest love. To lay down your life for another. Many thousands of American citizens have died for the love of their fellow man. May God Bless them all.
Blessed John Duns Scotus, the thirteenth-century Franciscan theologian, expresses God’s greatest gift to us is our freedom and our free will. This is the way we can show our alignment with God in all our actions or words. Or not as the case may be. We have the option to use our free will in whatever form we want. Only to be moderated by the law.
Scotus continues to illustrate with this with blinding simplicity, if our choices are based in love, then they are from God. So, patterns of love are exercised if we align ourselves with God, and therefore do His will with this in our heart. All other actions are not of God.
This simple message is best communicated in Jesus’s words on the Sermon on the Mount, in the beatitudes. Here, and thoroughly, the Way of God is illustrated in all parts of our lives. Loving others, caring for the poor needy, surrendering to God, are all there.
This coming week we have a way of communicating His will using the beatitudes and His love in our duty to vote for those who best represent our personal values and beliefs. It is always a time for me to dig deep into these bigger questions and move beyond the sound bites and divisiveness which seems to encourage a polarizing atmosphere. I often feel, listening to the news that I am hearing “The United Hates of America” and so little of what caused me to move here, so little of what truly makes up the character of an accepting, loving, nurturing and generous nation which was the one I came to in the 1980s. While I am still optimistic, my own decisions, not just in voting, but in everyday life, continue to be informed by these guidelines in the beatitudes.
The word beatitude means “supreme blessedness.” How beautiful is that? Today, I need this blessedness to guide me during my days and weeks. And I will use them on Monday as I make decisions to determine who I feel is most aligned with those instructions from the Sermon on the Mount.
How are the beatitudes playing out in your life? Perhaps I can pick on one for the week and see how important it is to me and those around me.
I also pray the divisiveness which permeates the country, communities and even families will be dissipated soon, washed away in the Blood of Christ and the Eucharist we celebrate together today.
When the pain comes in from those who dislike you,
Or what you have done,
Or seems you had done;
The fork in the road rushes up.
To vilify and engage in debate,
Shredding their argument,
And then their clothes;
Until they are left naked, and your work is done.
Or listen and pray,
Perhaps then, we might hear what is behind the words,
The critiques, the noise,
And learn what is in their heart.
Which may tell us what is in ours.
Reflection, Photography and Poem Copyright 2018 by Michael J. Cunningham O.F.S.
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