Holiday Family Gathering Coming Up? Let the Beatitudes Quell Your Attitudes
Many people relish the Holiday Family Gathering. Ideally we would all relish it---but, alas, for many attending a HFG is like going to the dentist: unavoidable, uncomfortable, painful, disturbingly intrusive, and way too much about what you do and don't eat.
Mostly, of course, both visits are all about enduring it while your open nerves get poked at and jabbed.
Does thinking about an upcoming family gathering make you want to hide beneath a lead blanket and start spitting? Good ---because times of emotional stress are the times to heed Jesus.
Bearing that truth in mind, let us turn to the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, that perfect distillation of his overall message to the world. At the beginning of each beatitude, Jesus teaches us one aspect of who we should strive to become in order to more fully manifest him. So let's consider what role each beatitude might play in our attitude, in order to preclude our getting stewed, blued, in a feud (or booed!) when for the holidays we meet with our brood.
Don't seclude; be renewed!
Annoy your readers, so they'll attend St. Peter's!
Please forgive me; I have some sort of ... organic rhyming dysfunction.
Here's what Jesus teaches us at Matthew 5:3-12, and how we can use it to this year be a blessing to ourselves and our families when we meet with them over the holidays.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. We tend to go into family gatherings pretty keyed up. We feel intense, alert, super-sensitive to everything everybody says and does; when we hear, "You're here!" our spidey senses kick fully on. But that's exactly the opposite of being "poor in spirit"; that's being too rich in spirit. At its core that's all about ego. Before stepping into your family gathering, take a minute, take a breath, and fill yourself with the Holy Spirit---which eradicates your grubby, score-keeping ego spirit, and brings in its place the spirit of Jesus. And if there's one thing Jesus showed us, it's that it's all about wanting and keeping nothing for yourself.
Blessed are those who mourn. Again, this is about the Holy Spirit filling you with the understanding that everything of this world---including your family---is temporary. Centering yourself within that truth gives you the clarity to appreciate that everyone in your family is just like everyone else in the world: in need of constant, absolute, and perfect love. That's a hunger that can't get met on earth. And that fact does inform the human experience with a very great sadness. Know that. Be with that. Let the truth of that flow through you, so that you treat the members of your family not as people with whom you have your own specific, tangled history, but as co-travelers through what is, after all, this veil of tears we call life.
Blessed are the meek. Don't fight. Don't provoke. Don't defend. Don't insist that your thoughts and opinions are given their full weight. Let every last bit of that go. Allow others to go before you. Let others have the floor. Let others be right and strong and firm and clear in whatever way it's important for them to be so. Support them in an unqualified way. Instead of saying the words your ego-self is first inclined to, say what you know would most please the other person. Why not? If Jesus can sacrifice his life in order for you to be reconciled with God, you can surely sacrifice a bit of yourself in order to promote harmony within your family.