• David Carlson

494 The beatitudes mean deeper mercy and blessing for those who experience more divisive misery

Announcement about our Emmaus Liturgy this Sunday:

Our Emmaus liturgy this Sunday will celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary of Magdala whose feast day we celebrate on July 22nd..


Mary Magdalene was a woman barely mentioned a dozen times or so in scripture, but yet, it is she who becomes known as “The Apostle to the Apostles.”


How did that transition happen?


This Sunday, we will hear readings that will help us trace her journey.


Come, with your memories of this immensely significant women in the life of Jesus, and all of us.


Bring your hopes for how best to bring her courageous and faithful presence into our world today.


Day 494 Friday July 23rd, 2021

The beatitudes mean deeper mercy for those who experience more divisive misery, deeper blessings for those whose hope is dimmest.



(First paragraph by Richard Rohr) My fellow Albuquerque resident Megan McKenna is an author, storyteller, and theologian who challenges us to imitate Jesus. She writes of the importance of translation when it comes to understanding the meaning of Jesus’ words:


A Reflection by Megan McKenna


The blessings and woes have so much depth and latitude, so many layers of meaning that are unveiled throughout the gospel of Luke, especially in the parables. Even the meaning of the word beatitude is rich and complex when seen from different perspectives. . . . [In Elias Chacour’s book We Belong to the Land] there is a marvelous description of a beatitude that enhances our understanding of what Jesus means when he says “blessed are you.”


Knowing Aramaic, the language of Jesus, has greatly enriched my understanding of Jesus’ teaching. Because the Bible as we know it is a translation of a translation, we sometimes get a wrong impression. For example, we are accustomed to hearing the Beatitudes expressed passively:



Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.


“Blessed” is the translation of the word makarioi, used in the Greek New Testament.



However, when I look further back to Jesus’ Aramaic, I find that the original word was ashray, from the verb yashar. Ashray does not have this passive quality to it at all. Instead, it means “to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent.”. . .


How could I go to a persecuted young man in a Palestinian refugee camp, for instance, and say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” or “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”? That man would revile me, saying neither I nor my God understood his plight and he would be right.



When I understand Jesus’ words in Aramaic, I translate like this:


Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for you shall be satisfied.


Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you peacemakers, for you shall be called children of God.


To me this reflects Jesus’ words and teachings much more accurately. I can hear him saying: “Get your hands dirty to build a human society for human beings; otherwise, others will torture and murder the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.”



Christianity is not passive but active, energetic, alive, going beyond despair. . . .“Get up, go ahead, do something, move,” Jesus said to his disciples.



The beatitudes mean deeper mercy for those who experience more divisive misery, deeper blessings for those whose hope is dimmest. They give an ultimate authority to certain people and their plight in the world. They signify not just a religious attitude, but a social attitude toward realities that should not exist among humans.


by Megan McKenna


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