IT IS EASY when we read a familiar Bible passage such as the Beatitudes, to believe that, having been spoken 2000 years ago, the words are not relevant for us.

When Jesus spoke those words on the hilltop overlooking the Sea of Galilee, he did so to  ordinary people, just like you and me.

Among them would have been those who were hurting, those who felt betrayed by friends or family members; those who were lonely, who felt rejected by society; those who were afraid, who felt unloved, confused, and unsure of what their future held.

I can picture Jesus looking across at those people, his eyes shining with love and acceptance, his heart full of compassion and kindness, and his arms extending understanding, hope and reassurance.  As he gazed across at the crowd, speaking to everyone – and yet to each as an individual – he began his discourse of love, grace and mercy, peace, and encouragement.

As we listen to those words once more, may they go deep inside us and touch us where we most need them:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

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

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

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12).

Life is not always easy.  We all have challenges, times of hurt and heartache; and times of joy and gladness.  As we face the coming week, may we experience the wonder of God’s love and the assurance of his blessings as we reflect upon his words to us through these Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount.