Contemplating Jesus

BEAUTY & THE BEATITUDES

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

'Salvator Mundi" by Antonello da Massina, 1465.

Nineteenth century English writer and critic, John Ruskin, wrote, ”Ideas of beauty are among the noblest which can be presented to the human mind.”  So it was on that grassy hillside in Galilee where Jesus delivered his litany of blessings.  The nobility of the core of his teaching, what he himself embodied, he uttered not as rules, laws and commandments, but as a beautiful, gentle balm of understanding, comfort and hope. 

In retrospect, Jesus could well have been instructing the crowd, who gathered to hear the Beatitudes, to become aware of the rudiments of his character, motives and manner.  And, in imitating them, assuming their power, each person could mirror what it was they saw, admired and felt drawn to in Jesus.    There was no doubt that approachability was one such attribute.  Jesus was not on any pedestal removed from those who thronged to hear him.   “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5) confirmed that an open and kind disposition, reflected through beauty of face, voice and presence, had an attraction rarely encountered.   Jesus’ meekness could coax beauty out of ugliness – from evil, sickness, despair, hopelessness, fear and even death– as an expression of divine love.  By not fighting his accusers, or reversing the direction of his destiny, Jesus exemplified the beauty of surrender, the unequivocal acceptance of God’s will, the very meekness of spirit.  That meekness was what he described as “poor in spirit” a humble position, empty of ego, entitling those who had gained such virtue to “the kingdom of heaven.”   He articulated the law of attraction by saying if you give mercy, you will receive in kind.  If you avoid complacency, and hunger for what is right; if you receive persecution for standing firm in your beliefs and principles, great is your reward.

Jesus’ beatitudes portrayed the guidelines by which he lived.  In their simplicity and beauty, they are as pertinent today as directives to peace and holiness.

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