Beatitudes: What You Want, part 2

The use of the emphatic pronoun αυτοϛ is as if a 65-year-old man met his 38-year-old daughter in a neighborhood of Leominster, Masssachusetts, and stood on the sidewalk with her, considering a house.

“Very nice,” he said, “Very pleasant-looking house. Fresh coat of paint. Yes, very nice. I see why you like it.” He seemed to hesitate. Then he pointed toward the upper story.

“See that part of the wall that’s right beneath the overhang?”

She saw.

“It looks uneven. That’s because they’ve painted over some older paint that was flaking off. That’s what it looks like when you do that. So you have to ask yourself, why was the paint coming off? That doesn’t just happen; something pushes it off, usually water. So that’s something you’d want to investigate.”

He pointed to the roof. “Do you see those light-colored shingles?”

She did.

“Those don’t match the others, so somebody made a repair. Maybe the water problem has been solved, or maybe other parts of the roof are still leaking, or are about to give out. That’s something you’d want to look into.”

He gave her the look she had known since childhood: skeptical, challenging, wry. “You might have a number of things to look into.” He turned back to the house.

“And there, where the chimney meets the roof, do you see that black paint looks like tar? That’s supposed to seal the join and keep the water out, but that tar stuff is not very reliable. What you want is –”  he turned and scanned the other houses on the street – “you see the metal at the base of that chimney? That’s flashing. It’s much more sturdy, much more reliable. That’s what you want.”

He looked some more, pointed out a couple more trouble spots, and found nearby examples of the same things done right. Each time, he said, “That’s what you want.”

He wasn’t lecturing. He was showing; he was offering.

That’s the good thing.

Learn about it.

Recognize it when you see it.

Could that be the emotional tone, the purpose of αυτοι, they, in the Beatitudes? Not exclusion, but revelation and invitation.

Yes, they are hurting, in rage and frustration, or grief. Yes, they are risking everything, or they are simple, or they are touched in the head. Yes, they most likely are different from you, and maybe they scare you. But look. Look again. There are gifts built right into their tough, or unbalanced, or suffering state. Look again, and be less afraid.

October 1, 2020 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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