Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

We had a ham casserole, fried cabbage, and field peas for our New Year’s Day meal. I know you’re supposed to have black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, but I hate black-eyed peas. And in case you haven’t noticed, field peas have cute little black eyes. They just don’t show up on their little brown skins as well as the black eyes show up on black-eyed peas with their white skins. So I think field peas fit the occasion just fine. Besides, I forced myself to eat black-eyed peas with my cabbage last year and look what happened to the stock market! ------- But wait - isn’t it green cabbage that’s supposed to keep the financial world on track? Refresh my memory - what role do peas play? I’m not very well versed in New Year’s symbolism, but I enjoyed my lunch anyway.

This is the eighth day of Christmas. Eight maids are a-milking which is supposed to remind us of the beatitudes. Here they are - all eight of them - from Matthew 5:3-10 (RSV) -

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the sons of God.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I don’t see a thing in this list that our current society puts a high premium on. In fact, if our materialistic, secular society came up with some beatitudes, they might look something like this:

1. Blessed are those who are puffed up with pride and push everybody else around, for theirs are the earthly kingdoms.
2. Blessed are those who party hard, for they will inherit a good time.
3. Blessed are the aggressive, for they can take what they want.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after pop culture, for they will be popular.
5. Blessed are those who get even, for they won’t be taken advantage of.
6. Blessed are those with devious hearts, for nobody will be able to figure them out.
7. Blessed are those who stir up trouble, for peace is so boring.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for political correctness’ sake, for they will have fame - and probably fortune, too, since they will be able to sue somebody and win.

But you know what? Society’s skewed values are nothing new. They have been around since the beginning of time. The beatitudes make it clear that heaven and earth are polar opposites - which is why Paul said, "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2) It’s a tall order, but we can do it - with God’s help, of course. Yes, we can!

1 comment:

SBL said...

Your modern version of the 8 Beatitudes is a striking portrait of the values we so often see at work in the world today. How sad. :-( Sue