One recent Saturday morning, my son Carson and I decided to go on a little hike on the Acadiana Park Nature Trail in Lafayette. Ill-advisedly, we decided to bring our chihuahua, Deuce. Just us three guys hanging out.
Deuce is named after famous New Orleans Saints running back, Deuce McAllister, who retired after the 2006 season.
So as you may have already guessed, Deuce (the chihuahua) is getting up in years. He is 14 years old. And it shows. He can’t run as fast or jump as high as he used to. His joints give him problems. He also suffers a bit with asthma. Not to mention, he can also get rather cranky if you have the audacity to pet him while he’s taking one of his frequent power naps.
The moment Jesus announced the Beatitudes in “the Sermon on the Mount” and began to live by them in a public manner, he was launched on a course that would inevitably lead him to Good Friday.
The Beatitudes themselves are found at Calvary. All eight of them are on full display. Here’s a famous painting of the crucifixion that Andrea Mantegna painted in 1459. It hangs in the Louvre in Paris. Just look at it for a moment.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In this scene, where do we find the poor in spirit receiving the kingdom of heaven? The thief on the cross – who at first joins in the taunts of those who are mocking Jesus, but later thinks better of it, repents, and scolds his compatriot who is being crucified with him and says, “We are receiving what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.” And then he turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Every so often when I am sitting in prayerful contemplation, an image captures my attention. Sometimes it is an actual object that I am physically looking at, like a cross on my desk or a bird in the sky or a tree branch blowing in the wind. Other times it is something I see in my mind’s eye.
And usually, as I reflect upon whatever it is, I can sense and receive what I understand to be thoughts, insights, and experiences from God himself.