Sometimes the solution to a problem is so simple that we often overlook it because, it can’t be that simple.
In fact a Franciscan monk, William of Occam from the 13th Century stated that the simplest solution is most likely the right one.
It became known as Occam’s Razor where all the non-essential parts were cut away leaving the simplest solution.
How often don’t we complicate situations, making it worse and discovering the answer was there all the time under our noses and we wonder why we didn’t see it.
In today’s Gospel reading this is what Jesus teaches when in his Sermon on the Mount he delivers what have become known as The Beatitudes to explain the secrets of life hidden under the obvious which we complicate by our own view of how to find true happiness in life.
So, let’s look at what Jesus says and how it applies more than ever in our world today:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is not talking about poor in financial terms but is speaking about a quality we call humility – Poor in Spirit.
Often seen as a weakness, humility allows us to see through superficial barriers.
When Jesus came to dwell with us, Philippians says he emptied himself and became humble all the way to the cross.
Humility allows us to accept life the way it is even if we don’t always understand it.
Rather than needing to prove ourselves before others humility allows us to be the people God has made us to be, whether or not we are accepted or praised in the eyes of the world.
And when we see life as a gift from God regardless of what we achieve or attain in this life – we see the Kingdom of Heaven is really all that matters and that it is awaiting us – a place and gift that puts this life in true perspective.
If we want to keep chasing this life, we will never be satisfied and we will never appreciate what God has prepared for us.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Death is the most difficult experience we face – the death of a loved one and the prospect of our own death.
But death for Christians is also the most beautiful experience in that it is not the end of this life but the beginning our new life in heaven.
And that’s why St Paul says – let us grieve – but not like those who have no hope.
Death is difficult and painful as we see also in Jesus who weeps at the death of Lazarus.
But he assures the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha – that he is the resurrection and the life and those who die trusting in him, even though they die they shall live.
Without faith, death becomes something we don’t talk about – we try to prolong life – we call it anything but death.
But in Christian faith Jesus simply puts it – those who mourn shall be comforted by the assurance of eternal life where there will be no more mourning because there will be no more death.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Like poor in spirit, meekness is about accepting the life God has given to us.
The difference is that Jesus wants us to still focus on life here on earth as God’s gift as we wait to enter our home in Heaven.
We are here for a purpose – God has created us – we are all special.
Ephesians 2 says: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Even if the world values us differently, we know that we are created in God’s image.
God wants us to enjoy the bounty of this life while we wait for our true eternal home.
This life is a gift from God and meekness allows us to inherit all that life has even if the grass might seem greener on the other side of the fence.
How often don’t we hear of millionaires and celebrities and sports stars who are so unhappy with their lives despite seemingly having it all.
Every day is a gift from God.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
I hear it so often – life is so unfair.
Why do people get away with it?
Who are they answerable to?
So often you read the news or turn on the TV and you see something that just isn’t right.
And you feel powerless to make things right.
Jesus assures us that we must all give an account before God.
St Paul urges us to not get angry but to leave room for God’s justice.
And so too Jesus says – trust God.
You who are seeking justice and righteousness – you will find it when God sets things right on Judgment Day.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
This is not a “tit for tat”.
This is not what some people call “karma” – that if you do good things to others then others will do good things to you.
No, this is about experiencing the peace of God that goes beyond human understanding when we can live lives that show mercy to others.
It enables us to experience the knowledge of God’s mercy by showing that same mercy to others.
It’s like what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer – forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
It’s not saying God won’t forgive if we don’t forgive.
But if we don’t forgive others can we truly know how much God has forgiven us?
You sort of get that peaceful feeling when you do something good for someone else without them doing something for you.
Maybe you’re driving and you let someone else in who is looking for someone to let them squeeze into the traffic.
Even though the next person may not return the favour to you, you have that sense of knowing you did the right thing even if the right thing hasn’t been done to you.
Alternatively you can demand your rights and that person can just wait like I had to wait.
What feeling do you have in you then?
Instead of a feeling of anger or frustration for all the things done against you, you can experience peace by showing mercy.
A feeling that is much more powerful than the feeling of being right.
It’s like when you’re having a dispute in a relationship and you know you’re right and you’re not going to back down.
But what is better – to be right and be unreconciled – or to show mercy and work towards reconciliation?
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Jesus is reminding us that sin breaks down our relationship with God.
No matter how small or how many people are doing it today or others are doing much worse than I am – sin breaks down our relationship with God as it did for Adam and Eve who hid from God when they realised they had sinned.
This is not about works righteousness to earn God’s love.
No, Jesus forgives our sin.
But living in right ways enables us to have a clean conscience – a pure heart to see God’s presence in our lives and to see his work in our lives.
In Jesus’ tine so many people wanted to see God at work through the miracles Jesus was doing.
But Jesus made it really simple – if you have seen me you have seen the Father.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Peacemakers is not about what we saw in the 60s with the peace movement.
No this is about peace with God.
These are the ones who seek to end conflict through forgiveness by exampling forgiveness they have with God with others.
These are the ones who, as stated before, are prepared to seek reconciliation rather than their own rights.
Before his accusers Jesus remained silent even though he could have demanded justice.
When Peter cuts off the ear of the arresting soldier Jesus rebukes him and tells him to put away his sword – don’t you think my Father could send a multitude of angels to protect me.
Even from the cross, writhing in pain, Jesus calls out to his Father to forgive those who were nailing him to the cross.
Jesus calls us to bring about peace by being the peacemakers.
Being the peacemakers by being the ones who will forego our own justice for the sake of peace.
By loving our enemies and by loving one another as Jesus loves us – and by this all will know we are Jesus disciples – Children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Note the beatitudes begin and end with “theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”.
There is no doubt that it is getting harder to express our Christian faith.
Whether it’s defending what we believe or trying to keep Christmas and Easter with a focus on Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t need us to defend him – as he told Peter – put away your sword.
Our response to persecution is to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Again, we can be right in our defence, but will that achieve anything?
Jesus won the affection of others by eating with sinners not by proving to them that they are sinners.
The Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, is a reminder to trust God in adversity.
While the world highlights adversity as weakness or negatives, Jesus says that they are assurances of God’s presence with us – as St Paul says – when I am weak, then I am strong.
Not that we should look for adversity or welcome it – but that we should use them to remind us of God’s plan for us and remember that our sufferings are not worth comparing with the joy that awaits is in the Kingdom of Heaven where there will be no more suffering or death.
Blessed are all because of Jesus Christ our Lord.