As I was reading the First Nations Version of the New Testament, I was interested in the way Matthew 5:1-16 was presented. I have always heard these teachings of Jesus referred to as “the Beattitudes.” Various authors have written about these verses, calling them “be attitudes” or “be happy attitudes.” For some reason, that approach has not appealed to me. The verses are more than attitudes we should possess.
The First Nations Version is different. It talks about these verses as the “Blessings of the Good Road.” Rather than mere attitudes, these verses talk about a way of life and use compare that way of life to a good road. We have the choice of roads we take. We have all been on some bad roads. They are to be avoided at all costs. Clearly, the road that Jesus showed us was the good one. Our Creator’s blessing rests on those who walk on the good road.
The blessings of the good road are given to the poor (5:3). Our Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who walk a trail of tears (5:4) and on those who walk softly (5:5). The good road is the way of Jesus and the spirit by which we walk that road is one of humility. The good road is filled with the blessings of the Creator who work “for wrongs to be made right.” (5:6). The road is filled with blessings on those who are merciful and kind, who possess pure hearts, and who work for peace (5:7-9).
The Creator’s blessing rests on those who do the right things, but “are hunted down and mistreated for what is right” (5:10). Creator’s blessing rests on us even when other people speak and act against us (5:11).
The First Nations Version goes on to talk about our lives when we walk the good road with Jesus. We are like salt, bringing cleansing and healing to the people and all of creation around us. We bring light to the world when we walk the road with Jesus.
I have found that I do not experience the blessings of the good road when I drive down it 75 miles an hour as though it were a highway. The good road is a journey that provides opportunities to experience the world. It is a road that lets us slow down and admire the world around us and experience its peace.
My prayer is that as we enjoy the holy season of Advent and Christmas and prepare for the coming New Year, we might focus in new ways on the road that Jesus is leading us to walk. It is a road that leads to peace and joy. May the coming year be one of happiness and peace for each of you.
I am blessed to be the bishop of OIMC and to be on the good road with you.