Many of us work for companies or dioceses or parishes that have a mission statement or a vision statement; sometimes these can be ‘holy hopes’ written by a committee and then forgotten, but sometimes they are the very core of an organisation and are ‘owned’ by all stakeholders. The Beatitudes are Jesus’ mission statement, they reflect the very heart of Jesus. So, as stewards, as followers of Jesus, part of his ‘committee’ if we find that image helpful, we too should try to live these eight statements as both our vision and our mission. Ultimately, stewardship is a way of life lived gratefully for all that God has given to us; all the ways in which God has blessed our lives, for that is the meaning of beatitude.
We live in a society where success appears to be the heart of all that is good. The eight beatitudes offer us a counter-cultural approach, where humility and mourning and gentleness and peacefulness etc. are what is blessed. These are gifts from God that we are called to steward; they lead us to a life lived in integrity and honesty. What we hear and what we learn from Jesus’ identification of who is blessed is something for us to hold at the very heart of our discipleship. Yet these beatitudes are paradoxical – the first, for example telling us ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, yet who among us would choose that?! Poverty of spirit has a gift to offer us; it can teach us not to rely on ourselves, but to rely on God. It invites us to be grateful to God for the blessings we receive in our poverty.
An invitation might be to take eight days and pray each of these beatitudes in turn, listening to Jesus speak each one to us and seeing where the truth of where we are living each one is in our own lives. We might also think of those identified in each beatitude (the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness). These are the people who reflect God to us through the ways in which God has extravagantly blessed them. In what ways am I called to reflect these blessings? Praying these beatitudes may be a step to becoming and being a more faithful steward in response to the fact that we are all truly blessed by God.