Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacred Sunday-The "Bow-Tides"

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True story.

I had just moved to the South and was working evening shift at a hospital. We were all at dinner when Rosie (name changed to protect the ignorant) began talking about a beautiful sermon her pastor had given in her thick, back country, Southern drawl. “What was it about?” we all asked. “Oh, it was about the bow-tides.” “Bow-tides? What the heck are bow-tides?” we inquired. “You know, the Sermon on the Mount.”  Dear friends, she meant the BEATITUDES! 

In any case, I was thinking about this story when I woke up this morning. I really didn’t have a Sacred Sunday post in mind so I took it to mean that this was to be my blog topic of the day: an introduction to the 8 beatitudes Jesus spoke on at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. See Matthew 5:3-10

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. 

Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. 

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 

Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The following comes directly from New Advent at

First beatitude

The word poor seems to represent an Aramaic 'ányâ (Hebrew 'anî), bent down, afflicted, miserable, poor; while meek is rather a synonym from the same root, 'ánwan (Hebrew 'ánaw), bending oneself down, humble, meek, gentle. Some scholars would attach to the former word also the sense of humility; others think of "beggars before God" humbly acknowledging their need of Divine help. But the opposition of "rich" (Luke 6:24) points especially to the common and obvious meaning, which, however, ought not to be confined to economical need and distress, but may comprehend the whole of the painful condition of the poor: their low estate, their social dependence, their defenseless exposure to injustice from the rich and the mighty. Besides the Lord's blessing, the promise of the heavenly kingdom is not bestowed on the actual external condition of such poverty. The blessed ones are the poor "in spirit", who by their free will are ready to bear for God's sake this painful and humble condition, even though at present they be actually rich and happy; while on the other hand, the really poor man may fall short of this poverty "in spirit"

Second beatitude

Inasmuch as poverty is a state of humble subjection, the "poor in spirit", come near to the "meek", the subject of the second blessing. The anawim, they who humbly and meekly bend themselves down before God and man, shall "inherit the land" and possess their inheritance in peace. This is a phrase taken from Psalm 36:11, where it refers to the Promised Land of Israel, but here in the words of Christ, it is of course but a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven, the spiritual realm of the Messiah. Not a few interpreters, however, understand "the earth". But they overlook the original meaning of Psalm 36:11, and unless, by a far-fetched expedient, they take the earth also to be a symbol of the Messianic kingdom, it will be hard to explain the possession of the earth in a satisfactory way.

Third beatitude

The "mourning" in the Third Beatitude is in Luke (6:25) opposed to laughter and similar frivolous worldly joy. Motives of mourning are not to be drawn from the miseries of a life of poverty, abjection, and subjection, which are the very blessings of verse 3, but rather from those miseries from which the pious man is suffering in himself and in others, and most of all the tremendous might of evil throughout the world. To such mourners the Lord Jesus carries the comfort of the heavenly kingdom, "the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25) foretold by the prophets, and especially by the Book of Consolation of Isaias (11-16). Even the later Jews knew the Messiah by the name of Menahhem, Consoler. These three blessings, poverty, abjection, and subjection are a commendation of what nowadays are called the passive virtuesabstinence and endurance, and the Eighth Beatitude (verse 10) leads us back again to the teaching.

Fourth beatitude

The others, however, demand a more active behaviour. First of all, "hunger and thirst" after justice: a strong and continuous desire of progress in religious and moral perfection, the reward of which will be the very fulfillment of the desire, the continuous growth in holiness.

Fifth beatitude

From this interior desire a further step should be taken to acting to the works of "mercy", corporal and spiritual. Through these the merciful will obtain the Divine mercy of the Messianic kingdom, in this life and in the final judgment. The wonderful fertility of the Church in works and institutions of corporal and spiritual mercy of every kind shows the prophetical sense, not to say the creative power, of this simple word of the Divine Teacher.

Sixth beatitude

According to biblical terminology, "cleanness of heart" (verse 8) cannot exclusively be found in interior chastity, nor even, as many scholars propose, in a general purity of conscience, as opposed to the Levitical, or legal, purity required by the Scribes and Pharisees. At least the proper place of such a blessing does not seem to be between mercy (verse 7) and peacemaking (verse 9), nor after the apparently more far-reaching virtue of hunger and thirst after justice. But frequently in the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 20:5Job 33:3Psalms 23:4 (24:4) and 72:1 (73:1)1 Timothy 1:52 Timothy 2:22) the "pure heart" is the simple and sincere good intention, the "single eye" of Matthew 6:22, and thus opposed to the unavowed by-ends of the Pharisees (Matthew 6:1-616-187:1523:5-7, 14) This "single eye" or "pure heart" is most of all required in the works of mercy(verse 7) and zeal (verse 9) in behalf of one's neighbor. And it stands to reason that the blessing, promised to this continuous looking for God's glory, should consist of the supernatural "seeing" of God Himself, the last aim and end of the heavenly kingdom in its completion.

Seventh beatitude

The "peacemakers" (verse 9) are those who not only live in peace with others but moreover do their best to preserve peace and friendship among mankind and between God and man, and to restore it when it has been disturbed. It is on account of this godly work, "an imitating of God's love of man" as St. Gregory of Nyssa styles it, that they shall be called the sons of God, "children of your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:45).

Eighth beatitude

When after all this the pious disciples of Christ are repaid with ingratitude and even "persecution" (verse 10) it will be but a new blessing, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
So, by an inclusion, not uncommon in biblical poetry, the last blessing goes back to the first and the second. The pious, whose sentiments and desires whose works and sufferings are held up before us, shall be blessed and happy by their share in the Messianic kingdom, here and hereafter. And viewed in the intermediate verses seem to express, in partial images of the one endless beatitude, the same possession of the Messianic salvation. The eight conditions required constitute the fundamental law of the kingdom, the very pith and marrow of Christian perfection. For its depth and breadth of thought, and its practical bearing on Christian life, the passage may be put on a level with the Decalogue in the Old, and the Lord's Prayer in the New Testament, and it surpassed both in its poetical beauty of structure.


Betty said...

Polly, that is a great reminder!
Thanks for sharing!
Have a lovely Sunday!
love and hugs

Tracy said...

I love your Sunday posts, I really do. Now off to the shower for me, time to get ready for church myself.

gayle said...

Thank you for that!! I had to memorize those when I was a child in Catholic school!!

Raoulysgirl said...

Wonderful post (as usual)!

Perfect timing, as well!!!

Jenn Erickson said...

Great story, and beautiful post. Thank you! I needed that. We missed church this morning :(

Julie Schuler said...

I think Jesus clarified it in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 18:22 wherein he clearly meant the poor were the actual poor, economically disadvantaged. Lotsa evangelicals want to forget about that part.

But the Bow-tides! That's too much. That reminds me of when my husband was working as a manager for a pizza place and an employee was baffled over a customers request. My husband was trying to sort it out- "the guy asked for cotton lily" is what the employee told him. The rube misunderstood the word "cutlery". Heh.

Jephy's Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lissaloo said...

Beautiful :)

Jephy's Mom said...

After some consideration I had to delete my comment. I was afraid of offending you. I like the Bow-Tides too.

blueviolet said...

That is exactly what I needed to read this morning! Thank you so much.

It was cute how you opened it with the Bow-Tides story too.

When my dad died, the pastor referred to him as a peacemaker and it wasn't until that very moment that I realized that's exactly what he was and how he lived his life.

Corrie Howe said...

Thank you, very well written and informative. Have you read Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy?

kys said...

LOL at the Bow-tides.

Reminds me of kid named Ja-kwas (spelled Jaques). That is really how his mom pronounced it.

Kimberly said...

Ahh, that was funny, and beautiful!

I just felt my heart warm...thank you!

Weezer said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. You never let me down. This is very timely for me.
Thanks ever so much.

Erin said...

What a great idea for a Sacred Sunday post! Thanks for checking out my blog and following. I am from South Carolina and my family are Panther's fans. We do have a lot in common!

Have a great week!


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