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The Sermon on the Mount discusses various ways in which people can follow Jesus to get to heaven. In the first part, The Beatitudes are discussed. In society today, these teachings mean almost nothing. Nevertheless, they are believable. For example, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” No one has to interpret that in the literal sense, I mean obviously if you follow through a situation with a humble act of kindness, you will not immediately gain a part of the earth to call your own. However, one can assume that Jesus’ figurative interpretation meant the simple, universal knowledge that can be applied to many different situations today, and that is that for every good deed, one is rewarded or what goes around comes around. For most of the Beatitudes, one can go by those adages. As for the rest of the teachings such as “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” one can use common sense to interpret the apparent message in that particular Beatitude. Thus, these teachings can be lived by if taken day by day, in our present society. No one can deny that it would not be easy for an individual living in our present day to go by all the Beatitudes. Although we’re expected to, because we as humans are oh so imperfect, it is not a piece of cake. Take for instance a man working at a very prestigious law firm in New York City, everyone that works at that law firm is below him and he is practically making money by the second. If he has to fire someone, he will not hesitate by thinking about the Beatitude that says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” All he wants to obtain is a successful law firm, with less men that make mistakes like the one he wants to fire, and more men that can bring in plenty more money for him and his law firm. Instead of thinking about how perhaps these mistakes were petty and can be corrected with further training or being kind and forgiving toward this employee as a real man and boss should be, he will be thinking about how he wants him OUT so he can bring a new and flawless man IN. Anything to further the reputation of his firm, but again he is driven by wealth, which is not the right way to lead your life at all. Maybe he should be thinking about that Beatitude, but in today’s world there is a 100% guarantee that a man in that type of position will not be.
Further into the passage, it is said that Jesus expects everyone to love his or her enemies. That is a concept that everyone is familiar with, but again, hardly anyone will actually live his or her life according to that teaching. There are so many cruel and harsh people in the world today. When someone gets treated like dirt, the last thing that is on their mind is forgiveness and neglect. Instead, in the place of those moral requests of Jesus, is vindictiveness, anger and deviance. Of course with time, an argument or just a situation in general which caused people to become enemies in the end can lead to a possible reconciliation, but that is never a definite thing, unfortunately. I can love my enemies, of course I can. But the question is not can I or can I not love my enemies, it is how do I love my enemies? No one knows how, most people see it as impossibility. By nature we were raised with the mindset, if someone deceives you, you deceive him or her. It is sad but true, and in some families one may even actually be taught to physically fight back if someone wrongs them. It’s funny because the proverb, “two wrongs don’t make a right” is known worldwide, yet people seem to completely ignore it. The way most of us handle our problems today is not moral at all, but it is the way our society has come to be. There is hope to correct the problem, but very little hope at that.
In Jesus’ gospel, the meaning of hypocrisy is termed in two different scenarios. First, it is said that if you “doest alms,” in other words give to the poor, do not “sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they have glory from men.” Jesus is trying to explain to us that when we do something good, we should not go around boasting and bragging about having done it. He says that we will be rewarded by God because he is watching over us and sees all the good things we do, there is no need to go around in an attempt to gain attention because of something good you have done. If you do that, it is almost like you never did the good deed in the first place or it makes it seem as though you put no thought into what you did, you merely did it for the gratitude you knew you would receive thereafter.
The second example Jesus uses in referring to hypocrisy concerns fasting. He points out that during the time that we are fasting, we should never remain with that look on our face. The look of “dismal countenance,” that plainly gives the impression that we do not want to do it and that we are only doing it because we have to, as if to expect pity from everyone around us while we are fasting. We cannot sit and complain to everyone while we are fasting because that absolutely defeats the purpose of the whole sacrifice we are attempting to make.
I believe hypocrisy such as the examples above is ridiculous. I mean why preach one thing, and do another. Why sit there and brag about how you believe in one thing, and when the time comes to express your faith, sit back and purposely deny your faith, just as Judas did in that story when he denies Jesus three times. I think Jesus teaches us that whatever you may do on earth that is good should be done out of love and from your heart. Certainly not to gain attention, not to receive rewards or recognition, not to ascend to a higher position or anything like that because the only rewards we need and will get in due time, are the ones from God himself. These examples of doing self-less things for others, such as alms and making sacrifices for God such as fasting during the Lenten season can be hypocritical expressions or they can be done with truth and sincere intention from our hearts.
In life, it’s hard to say what I value the most. I value a lot of things for different reasons. I value my mother for bringing me into this world and supporting me through everything I do and just being there in general with unconditional love whenever I need it. I value my best friend, for loving me no matter how hard it is, for supporting me when I encounter rough times in my life. I value God; I’ve always turned to him whether it is at church or at home praying in my bed. And you know what, more often than not has he honestly answered my prayers or helped me when I asked him to help me. I know that if I am confused and cannot find my way he will be there, but I also know that sometimes he is unable to answer prayers because it may just not be the right time for things to go my way. It’s all about fate and destiny I guess. At least that’s how I’ve always viewed it. I suppose it’s only those three things I value the most, because they have helped me to get where I am today. If it were not for them I’d be totally lost. What do I treasure? I treasure love, and the people that bring it into your life. I guess because it’s so mesmerizing, it finds its way in your life one day and several days, months or even years later it finds its way out, sometimes unexpectedly. But with that comes the benefits of lessons and changes and if it were not for those, life would not go on. We would never learn from our mistakes, we’d just keep making them over and over and have no progression, no advances. Not only do I treasure that type of love, but also of course, I treasure the unconditional love I am surrounded with from my family and loved ones. If I learned anything from so many years of religious education, it’s that love is essential to life – you must give and receive it wholeheartedly.
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