by Dr. Jerry Terrill
The new year, 2017, is well underway. We hope and pray it will bring joy, peace, prosperity, and good health. We desire, seek, and yearn for happiness. We sometimes covet the peace and happiness we see in our neighbors. Psalm 1:1-3 informs us:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. (NIV)
The peace we seek and hope to experience is a Godly Work according to St. Gregory of Nyssa. In this spiritual discipline we attempt to recreate God’s love for us in loving individuals, couples, friends, and families that God allows us to minister to. The key text for 2017 is found in the Beatitudes in The Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:3 – 12. Another variation is found in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20 – 26.
Our word “Beatitudes” is a transliteration from the Latin “Beautitudo,” which may be translated as “happy,” “experiencing the utmost bliss,” or “blessed.” In the Beatitudes kingdom citizens are described by the Greek word, “Makarios,” may be translated “supremely blessed” or “happy.”
Jesus gives His own prescription for happiness in John 14: 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV).
We are called as Christians to be different from the world of which we are a part of. When the world around us appears to be regressing, falling apart, and life becomes difficult due to a job loss, an unexpected divorce, or death; when political hopes become dust, we turn to the peace that only God may give.
Pope Francis proposed these “modern Beatitudes” on his visit to Sweden on All Saints Day 2016, giving us a homily on happiness as found in the Gospels.
- Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
- Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.
- Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
- Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
- “Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
- Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
Dr. Jerry Terrill is Professor of Counseling and Director of the Counseling Program at Houston Graduate School of Theology.