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4 Traits of a Blessed Life

“How are you today?” It’s a common question we ask all the time. And I confess it was a polite greeting I was asking just to be polite. But then she gave me the answer that communicated volumes to me about her. She replied “I’m blessed!’ A beautiful smile, a lilt in her voice, and a sweet demeanor all said she really meant it.

Of course I’ve heard that reply a lot, especially growing up in the religious world that shaped my early years. And it wasn’t always so convincing. Most of the time I could pick up on a slight sense of desperation in my responder almost as if saying it would make it true! That’s kind of sad, when you think about it.

And yet, didn’t Jesus say we would have a blessed life if we followed Him? Yes, He did, but I bet a hundred dollars to a donut most folks don’t see being blessed the same way Jesus meant it!

Look at our lesson today in Luke 6:17-23:

At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”

Jesus gives us 4 traits of a blessed life and none of these traits really corresponds with my comfort, or convenience, or fame, or even an abundance of contentment! Perhaps that may mean I’m going to have to “adjust” my understanding of being blessed!

  • One, Blessed are the Poor. Really? The Poor? I thought that was what all our modern society was trying to get us to solve or escape or overcome. The poor are blessed precisely BECAUSE their poverty invites them to NEVER confuse possessions with happiness or safety or peace. Jesus is trying to free us from the delusion that having stuff OR not having stuff is the point! It’s the seeing beyond the stuff that makes us blessed. The poor WANT the Kingdom. The rich rarely do.
  • Two, Blessed are the Hungry. Again, physical hunger can blind us to anything else OR it can cause us to see past the momentary desire to the eternal invitation just beyond the temporary desire. The blessed part of hunger is in what it invites us to, not the hunger itself. After all, what are you really hungry for in your life?
  • Three, Blessed are the Weepers. “For Now” the passage adds, and that’s significant. Again, Jesus is comparing the power of the temporary to blind me to the eternal AND, in the very same situation the power of grief to invite me to see beyond it! Beyond my tears to the time when I will laugh! And this time of laughing can be eternal IF I’ll embrace the power of the moment of my grief!
  • Four, Blessed are the Hated. I hate this one, because my ego craves approval and affirmation. Seriously, we live in a society that sees the world differently than God, and that means those who follow Him are going to be hated! But what a treasure of opportunity is offered to me when I’m hated! I’m given the chance to love my enemies. I’m offered the moment to examine myself and repent for my part in their hatred. And I’m driven to trust God alone for my affirmation and acceptance!

Today, can you embrace your struggles now, at this moment, and see them as a blessing? By God’s grace, the very spiritual medicine you need right now in your life is contained, some might even say hidden like a treasure, within your right now life! And, if you have the courage to embrace this moment, even if it’s painful, you’ll find all the blessings you need to see past the momentary pain to the joy of being Orthodox on Purpose!

Keep faithful between Sundays!


  • Julie
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:21 am

    This is so beautifully put, Fr. Barnabas. I especially was touched by what you shared about blessed are we when we are hated. I know we are to pray for our enemies but I never thought about repenting for my part in their hatred. Thank you for today’s words.

  • Cyneath Ian
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 8:26 am

    O how much freedom the rejection and hatred of contemporary society gives!

    True, it is essential that one have their innate acceptance and community needs met in Christ and Church. But when one can abandon keeping up with the Joneses (who NEVER have been pinned down) then ones preoccupation can be the aforementioned Christ and Church. Noting that I said ‘can be’ and not ‘will be’ is that unless we are deliberate in making that happen through prayer and active commandment-keeping we are most likely to fall back into the old patterns of seeking the approval of others.

    We are called to let our light shine, which light is the Light of Christ. Yet the darkness (and those therein) hates the light, yet has no power over it. Give them the true reason to despise you: Shine!

  • Paula
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Jesus never fails to stretch us to the utmost. The command to love our enemies is the utmost. It would be easier to fast 365 days a year than to do this. And not only that, but also to repent for my part in the hatred. This very truth hits to the core of my ego. Cursed be this ego!
    No wonder the journey never ends. Surely we can do nothing without Him. Father, you ask, what are you hungry for in life? My answer is the very thing I have asked God to show me, and that is what does it mean to be “in Christ”…not just the words, but what it is. He hears our prayers. It’s hard work. But worth it. Blessed are the…….. !

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