I recently moved to New York, and one of the most striking things is the constant stimulation I have felt in this bustling city. My life has been filled with so many new things since moving here, and yet, there has been such a sense of emptiness and lack of being satisfied.
As I ponder the Beatitudes, there is something deep down which makes me uncomfortable. There is an unrest which I cannot silence, no matter how long I may try.
When Jesus preached His Gospel, which was contrary to all that the world promised at His time, he was preaching to ordinary people. And today this still is true.
As I place myself in this scene, I relate to the bystanders, who were probably in the midst of their ordinary lives. Like them, I would be in the middle of a day’s work or walking to the next place I had to be. But Jesus’ words speak into that. What He says speaks into my ordinary plan of my day by which I try to fill the needs of my heart.
We all have that void deep inside of us, that aspect where we realize that there is an emptiness. It is something that no matter what accomplishments we have, material possessions we own, or how many friends we have, it is still there.
And, because it is painful to be aware of it, we fill this void. Wealth. Anxiety. The “perfect” job. Noise.
It is easier to fill this hunger of our hearts to provide happiness now … But is that true happiness?
In the Beatitudes, Jesus provides us with an answer to this question. I ask, “How can I be blessed when I am mourning or in need? He promises beatitude, but what does He mean?”In such moments of need in our lives — we find Him there. When we are lacking, it provides the perfect space for us to be truly filled. Such opportunities are the way that we can meet Jesus. They are sacred spaces and times of our lives.
The void is not a lack, but an invitation.
When something is full, it has no more room for anything else. In the process of emptying, we are given a gift of space – to be open to what it truly means to be joyful.
In the midst of pain, weakness, struggle, or humility, you are blessed, because He is with you. And no matter what you encounter, that is enough. He is enough.
Image Citation: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea (Jésus enseigne le peuple près de la mer), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 11/16 x 9 1/4 in. (17 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.90 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.90_PS1.jpg)