Get The Right Attitude!
In the last three issues we have been looking at how the Ten Commandments are gifts of love from our Father to us. Each one of them means so much more than the exact meaning of the words that make them up.
Our Father wants us to live in His eternal home with Him. Each one of us has a special place kept just for him or her. That place is reserved for the person with your name, with your description and your talents. But getting there is an adventure. The road to adventure begins when we realize that our job on earth is to grow into the exact person for whom that place is reserved. That place in heaven is made for the person that God created - that beautiful person full of gifts and talents and potential, in short the real us. God makes the place to match His vision of us - what He knows we can be. We fit that picture when we live according to the Law of God, in love of God and of our neighbour.
We have to match the picture perfectly, like a puzzle piece that slots easily into place. If the piece is too small or the shape is even just a little wrong, then the piece doesn't fit. That is the same with us. If we do not grow into what God wants us to be, we won't fit and we will have to be reshaped until we fit. That reshaping we believe takes place in Purgatory. But we are winners and we are not planning on Purgatory. We want the straight road to Heaven! That is what God wants for us too.
How does He help us? Let us go back just a little. When God gave the 10 Commandments to His chosen people at the time, the Israelites, He meant for them to live them out in love and in this way make His love known to all people. God wanted the Israelites to be a nation of priests all over the world drawing all people to God. But instead of doing that, the Israelites saw the Commandments of God as something only for them. This made them proud and they set themselves apart from all other people created by God.
When our Father saw that His chosen people had not understood their task or how to live the Commandments of Love that He gave them, he decided to send His Son Jesus to show them how.
Jesus arrived and lived for thirty years among us before He started his mission to change the way people were thinking about God, about each other and about themselves. Jesus taught in the temples and in the streets, in the countryside and in people's homes.
When he was teaching people who thought that they knew a lot, especially the Sadducees and Pharisees, He talked about the prophets and the stories in the Old Testament, trying to make those who were proud of their knowledge see that they were misunderstanding the message that God had sent through the prophets. When he spoke to regular folk (like you and me) in the countryside and in people's homes, he spoke simply and often in parables which are stories about things and people that simple folk knew from their daily lives.
But Jesus knew that talking was not enough. If people know what to do it doesn't mean that they know how to do it. How many times have you not come home with work from school and you have written down what you have to do. But when the time comes for you to do it, you don't know how to go about it.
It was the same with the people around Jesus, especially those who had been told to obey so many rules and regulations (hundreds!) that they were quite lost about how to do it. They lived in fear that they would never have eternal life because they couldn't possibly remember all those rules and didn't know how to live them.
The message of Jesus was very simple. He gave it to us in two very beautiful Commandments: "Love God and love your neighbour". This was like a fresh breeze blowing on the faces of the poor people who had quite lost their way. They followed Jesus all the time trying to hear His word which gave them hope of salvation. All of a sudden life was worth living because you had the promise of God's love even if you were poor and did not have all the knowledge that the important people of society had.
But they also followed Jesus because they wanted to see how He lived and what he did. Jesus' daily life was a practical lesson for those following Him on how to get onto the road to heaven and stay on it.
If you are interested in cooking, and love to bake cakes, biscuits or make great big sandwiches and juicy snacks, you probably like watching your Mom doing these things in the kitchen. You can also read a recipe, but watching your Mom lets you see how she puts the things together and what ingredients and dishes she uses. You also make sure that you are there to taste the first lot of cookies still warm from the oven. The people that followed Jesus did just the same. They listened to Him, watched Him and sampled His love, kindness, compassion and generosity at first hand. Then Jesus told them that they had to do just like He was doing.
One of the famous lessons that Jesus taught the people that were following Him is called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). During that very long but very interesting lesson, Jesus told them how to get to Heaven. The first part of the lesson is called the Beatitudes. If we look at the Beatitudes and at Jesus' life, we will see that the Beatitudes are really a picture of Jesus.
When someone asks you to draw a picture of the way you see your parents, the first thing you do is probably draw their shape. Your Dad may be taller than your Mom so you make the man bigger. Your Mom may have long hair and your Dad may wear glasses. So you draw these. But that is not enough to describe your parents really. This is because to describe people properly it takes more that just giving their outside shape. You normally want to show what is on the inside of that person such as the things they like and dislike. If your Mom likes gardening you might draw her with a small spade in her hand and flowers at her feet. If your Dad loves reading you may draw him with a book in his hand. You can't draw 'reading' but you can draw a book.
In the same way, The Beatitudes are a picture of what our spiritual shape should be like (the image of Jesus). But by themselves they lack the interesting little drawings that say so much more. Yet Jesus wanted the people to understand clearly so he added the details that make the picture full and interesting. He followed the lesson on the Beatitudes with many real examples of how to live the Beatitudes.
In these examples Jesus spoke about many things that were real in the lives of the people listening to him. Some of the things he spoke about were the Ten Commandments, anger, oaths, revenge, adultery, loving you enemies, helping the needy, and about prayer, the treasures of heaven, fasting and answers to prayers.
So in one of the Beatitudes he said, "Be meek". That was not enough for the people to understand how to go about 'being meek'. It really meant that they had to treat everyone with kindness and serve others. But the words "be meek" don't say "be kind". So Jesus explained what it meant to be meek. He told the people to be kind to others who were mean to them, to help those who needed help, to treat their family with respect and love and to forgive each other and not take revenge. In that way people knew what being meek meant and could put it into practice. Jesus also showed them by the way he lived.
The Beatitudes are very important for us who want to win the race and go straight to heaven. They show God's mercy and kindness to those who didn't understand His love at first and to us who often also forget. He sent His Son to come and live with us, teach us and show us. Next time we will investigate these wonderful lessons of Jesus and explore how we can use them on our adventure road to Heaven
Till next time,
Your friend in Jesus.
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