Scripture Notes – Sunday 1st November 2020 (All Saints)

 Scripture notes: The Beatitudes

Happy are you…

Dear friends, 

A very warm welcome to all to Hearers of the Word for All Saints, 1 November 2020.

In his recent book, Morality. Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks discusses happiness in chapter 7. In a very helpful way, Rabbi Sacks distinguishes genuine happiness from entertainment, distraction, pleasure, possessions and consumerism. He then digs even deeper and goes back to Aristotle:

  • “Happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with the moral life.”

It is a little dry, of course, but true in the most real and practical way imaginable. Being my true self, being a good person, being loving and forgiving and so on, this is the royal road to deep and lasting happiness. Anything else is counterfeit, superficial and transient. This can be checked against the life experience of each one of us.

In the weekly YouTube video, the starting point for the reflection is taken from Rabbi Sacks. To go deeper, I have explored the options for translating the original Greek word for blessed/happy, which is makarios. An American writer that I’ve come across just recently make a good case for translating makarios as “flourishing.” It can feel odd at first, but then when you use it and feel the power of reading the Beatitudes in that way, it begins to make more sense. The sense of paradox is palpable.

1. Sunday 31A20, All Saints  (1 November 2020)
Full notes (PDF)
Gospel notes (audio)
Gospel notes (portable)

2. YouTube video 
The YouTube on Matthew 5:1-12 is a little longer than usual — given the importance of this reading in Christian spirituality and discipleship. 

3. Some inspiration (and fun, for a change)
Hearing familiar Bible texts in different languages can be arresting. Recently, I happened upon the Hawaiian Pidgin Bible. Hawaiian Pidgin is pretty close to regular English, but with a quite striking immediacy and freshness. The trick is to try to say it out loud to yourself. For example, the first Beatitude comes out like this:

“Da peopo dat know dey pooa an need God inside dem,
Dey can stay good inside.
Cuz God in da sky, he dea King.”

4. Hearers of the Word (vol. 4) for Advent and Christmas 2020.
The next volume in the series by yours truly is now available for purchase here.
Wishing you all every blessing in the week to come,