This week I sat with my fifth grade Religious Education students, my mind and heart were somewhere else….I had been spending much of my time with my father-in-law at the hospital. I read Matthew 5: 3-10 to my students and we began discussing the Beatitudes. What a perfect subject to ease my fears and calm my heart.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for
the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
We began talking about what Jesus meant when he gave the Sermon on the Mount. We broke down each one and translated it if you will into “layman’s terms”. Then I asked the class to give me an example of a time when they had seen someone living a Beatitude. This is the part of teaching that absolutely makes you grateful to have the opportunity! These 8 children had such wonderful little stories of times when other children, family members, teachers, strangers….had exemplified Jesus’ teachings.
First of all, the fact that they even understand the difference between preaching the Gospel and living it….WOW! Then we talked about which two we felt were the most difficult to live for us personally. I talked to the kids about some of the struggles I have in my life and as we went around the table and chose something to work on over the next week, I chose “Blessed are the peacemakers…” I explained to them how sometimes it is difficult to forgive others when they have hurt us or wronged us in some way. I am a very non-confrontational person and when I am hurt, I rarely go to someone and say, “Hey! You hurt me!” I typically just try to “turn the other cheek”. Does this mean I forgive them? Sadly, NO! That’s the part I really struggle with. I find it difficult to forgive someone that has not asked for forgiveness.
We talked about how none of us are perfect and we each make mistakes. Sometimes the best way to share the teachings of Jesus with others is to lead by example. Just because someone hurts us doesn’t mean they are bad people…maybe they didn’t realize how they affected us or maybe they were hurting too. So, we talked about how to forgive others even when they haven’t asked. After all, God forgives us each and everyday!
What a blessing the time spent with my fifth graders was to me this week. Not only was the hour with them a welcome distraction from what our family had been dealing with, but sharing the Gospel with them and learning how to live it in my own life while teaching it to them was a true gift from God!
We are all surrounded daily by so many blessings, big and small….sure, life gets messy, but God never forsakes us and we should never forsake him! I am grateful for my time spent with my fifth-graders and our lesson we shared on the Beatitudes. Listening to their stories and examples helped ME learn how to live as Jesus taught us.