Scripture: Lectionary 439. Colossians 3:1-11. Psalm 145:2-3.10-11.12-13.
Beatitudes are graces, blessings, and the joy God gives to us throughout
the Bible. We tend to think only of the Beatitudes given by Jesus in the
Sermon on the Mount, but beatitudes occur frequently in the Old Testament
and in other parts of the New Testament. Today we see the shorter form of
the beatitudes given in Luke who mentions only four of them and then
balances them with the opposite of beatitude, a woe. He has four matching
woes to the four beatitudes. He sets the beatitudes on the plain not on the
mountain as Matthew does with his listing of eight beatitudes.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke do however focus and concentrate on the
beatitudes in greater number than we find them scattered individually in
other parts of the Bible. The Apocalypse (Revelation=always in the
singular) has seven beatitudes throughout its twenty-two chapters.
Matthew and Luke borrow these beatitudes from an oral source which scholars
have named the “Q Source” a German expression for well or source. Often we
find the same words of Jesus matched in Luke and Mattthew and this is an
indicator of the common oral source from which they are borrowing. They
did not borrow directly from each other. Matthew gives us more an orderly
and almost liturgical presentation of passages whereas Luke tends to
abbreviate and avoid any extra ideas that may be present in Mark or
Matthew. Luke gives us his reason for doing this at the very beginning of
The creativity and pastoral interests of each Evangelist give us a
diversity and variety of events and sayings of Jesus that shows us the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit working within the given talents and limits
in literary ability of each of the Evangelists. God respects our
individuality and our unique contribution to make up for what is lacking in
the sufferings of Christ as Paul tells us.
Connected with the spirit of the beatitudes is the Lord’s Prayer (Our
Father) and here we have an easier comparison between Matthew’s longer
version used in the Mass and Luke’s shorter version. It is good to keep
them separate and not use expressions from Luke while saying the Our Father
used in the Mass. Matthew’s more Jewish and liturgical ordering of his
narratives and discourses are more Jewish in expression than those of the
Gentile writer named Luke. We are privileged to learn from these
differences and to respect the choices that each Evangelist makes from the
sources available to them be it the Oral Sayings of Jesus or the selection
of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures. The Evangelists have their unique
theological approach and this is to be studied and respected without
getting upset with the differences. The communities and churches they
addressed had different pastoral needs and this shows up in the way the
Gospels differ. All four of course do proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ
in its fullness and their message of salvation and revelation gives us the
same truthful presentation in different literary presentations and styles.
We are enriched by this diversity and this more universal outreach of
evangelization through God’s inspired words in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and
John. We may say there is unity amidst this diversity and this too is a
blessing or beatitude. Amen.