Be Happy Attitudes?
On Sunday we will read the passage from Matthew’s Gospel known as “The Beatitudes.” Click here to read it.
It is now over almost 40 years since Robert Schuller published “The Be (Happy) Attitudes,” a study of the Beatitudes, finding in them “8 Positive Attitudes that can Transform Your Life.” I don’t know who came up with the rather kitschy title. From a marketing perspective, it seems to have worked. The book has sold millions! But I fear that the title has cheapened Jesus’ message in the Beatitudes.
With all due respect to the good Dr. Schuller, and the tremendous influence he has had through this and many other books and ministries, I do find the title regrettable. It was not the first time “happy” was used in the Beatitudes, “The Good News” translation, along with some others, use the term.
The Biblical word used here — most often translated “blessed” — means so much more. The promise of happiness causes me to look inward and to make my feelings the standard by which my faith is judged. Blessedness calls us to look to God, the source of blessing, and realize that the standard of faith is my relationship to God, not my feelings on any given day.
Happiness is fleeting, and subject to the law of diminishing returns. Blessedness is a profound and abiding sense of being in the right place with our Lord, regardless of our circumstances at the moment. Blessedness transcends the immediate. The Beatitudes remind us that true blessedness often comes in ways that have little to do with happiness in human terms (mourning, persecution, longsuffering, etc.)
In the end, the Beatitudes draw our attention to God, not to ourselves, and teach us to value things according how they draw us closer to Him. And the great irony of all this is that blessedness is really the only lasting road to happiness!
Where in your life would you be better off for seeking blessedness rather than happiness?
This column appeared in the January 29, 2023 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.