Friday, 03 December 2021
IMAGINE yourself in the story of Sleeping Beauty — the king and queen have gathered everyone together to celebrate the birth of their beautiful little daughter.
Neighbouring kings and queens have been invited and they bring their gifts, while the wider family offer their tribute too and play the old game of family faces: “Ooooh, she has her mother’s eyes, her father’s nose, her uncle’s feet”. At least three rather dotty fairy godmothers bless the child with beauty wealth and wisdom.
And then it happens… the court chamber is plunged into darkness, there is a roll of thunder and in comes a sinister black-robed figure, not the wicked fairy Maleficent, but the Minister!
She intones over the cradle:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5)
The guests murmur and are not happy. Strange blessings for a baby — are they blessings or curses? To be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be persecuted in the cause of right, are those blessings?
And how is a princess born to rule and command supposed to be meek? Meek? Doesn’t that mean “Blessed are those who wouldn’t say boo to a goose; the pushovers; for they will inherit the earth.”?
“Ah no,” said the Minister. “Those are assumptions which simply show how lost you are to truth and reason. These are the real blessings — beauty is fleeting, the wisest know only how little they know, and wealth is for this world only.
“These blessings bring you the life of heaven now and for all eternity, they bring strength and integrity and courage, they bring victory over sin and death, peace of mind now and God’s eternal peace at the end.
“You want those things for yourself and your children don’t you?
“You want them to be poor in spirit, to know that they and their desires are not the measure of everything. Confident for sure but not so full of themselves that they are unbearable. Yes?
“You want them to mourn, to grieve over the wrongs of the world and their part in them, and to have the integrity to change when they should. Yes?
“You want them to be ‘meek’ — that means ‘tamed’, like a great horse maybe, their passions and especially their pride under control, ready to learn from criticism, ready to be gentle, ready to see the best in others and not utterly self-centred. Yes?
“For the rest …. See you in church.”
And, with a swirl of black gown and a roll of thunder, the Minister departed.
21 October 2021
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