On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . eight maids a-milking.
As Christ came to save even the lowest of the low, this gift represents the ones who would receive his Word and be saved by his grace. Being a milkmaid was about the worst job one could have in England during this period; this code conveyed that Jesus cared as much about servants as he did those of royal blood. The eight who were blessed included the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
You will notice that in contrast to the spiritual gifts we just looked at on the seventh day, these are people who are in difficult situations in life and look to God for his grace and strength to help them in time of need.
The eight Beatitudes are recorded as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-10. Here is a brief understanding of each of them.
1) Blessed are the poor in spirit are people who are truly humble.
2) Blessed are those who mourn – this is obvious, but note how Jesus says that even as people mourn, they will be blessed or have him with them to give them comfort.
3) Blessed are the meek – this takes the humility mentioned in #1 to another level as people are gentle and kind, even in the face of adversity and hardship
4) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is not just seeking justice and righteousness, but rather do it as an expression of brotherly love
5) Blessed are the merciful is showing care and concern for those who are in distress. In order to do this, we might have to step out of our comfort zone and go places or deal with people that we normally don’t associate with. This beatitude of our Savior and all of them are summed up in Jesus’ exhortation: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
6) Blessed are the pure in heart means to seek to be free of all selfish intentions and self-seeking desires.
7) Blessed are the peacemakers means that they not only live peaceful lives, but also try to bring peace and friendship to others. This means looking for the best in people instead of seeing in them their worst.
8) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake recognizes that Jesus said many times that those who follow Him will be persecuted (John 15:20-21).
Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I am in a difficult place in my life or see someone else who is struggling, please help me to have the attitudes which you lay out in the Beatitudes and do what I can for “the least of these”. Amen.