This week, if you do something for someone else for no other reason than to bring joy to their lives, blessed are you.

If you find yourself feeling the loss of a friend or loved one and, in missing them, you realize that you experienced the love of God in their love for you, blessed are you.

This week, if you put yourself second for the needs of another, blessed are you.

If you do the “right” thing when the conventional wisdom is to do the “smart” thing, blessed are you.

This week, if you forgive someone or if someone forgives you, blessed are you.

Sometime in the next few days, if you stop, unplug and spend even just a moment thinking about all the good in your life and find yourself embraced by a sense of gratitude, blessed are you.

This week, if you can diffuse someone’s anger, if you can bridge the chasm between you and another, if you bring a positive perspective to an otherwise negative situation, blessed are you.

If you risk being laughed at or misunderstood or if you endure a “funny look” from someone because you took a stand based on what was morally and ethically right, blessed are you. You have reason to be glad. In the blessings you give, you have been blessed.

Such an attitude to living is missing from so many areas of our lives, from our culture, from our society. But in the Gospel of the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to live our lives by a very different set of values than those of our dog-eat-dog -success-is-everything- get-them-before-they get-you- based world: to detach from material things and attach ourselves to the things of God; to embrace God’s Word of comfort in the face of life’s difficulties; to find our joy and purpose in service to others; to seek what is just and right in all things; to become vehicles of God’s mercy and forgiveness for all; to stop and listen to God’s voice speaking in the quiet of our hearts; to work for peace in our homes and communities; to take up our own crosses as Jesus took up his for the sake of justice and righteousness; to spend all that we have and are to establish the kingdom of God in our own time and place.

To be a people of the Beatitudes is to embrace the spirit of humility that begins with seeing life as a gift from God, a gift we have received only through God’s love, not through anything we have done to deserve it. Jesus calls all who would be his disciples to live the “blessedness” of the Sermon on the Mount: to embrace a spirit of humble gratitude before the God who gives, nurtures and sustains our lives and to respond to such unfathomable love the only way we can: by returning that love to others, God’s children, as a way of returning it to God.