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Jesus used the word makarios in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the ___.”A more accurate translation would be, “You are in your happy place when.” We want to be in that happy place ourselves, and we want you to be, too.

In Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes, the authors talk about the word usually translated “blessed” in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

“Sociologists suggest that people have a difficult time describing or even identifying something that they don't have the vocabulary for. Some even suggest that one can have a hard time experiencing something for which one has no corresponding word. The Greeks had a word for the feeling one has when one is happy: makarios. It is a feeling of contentment, when one knows one's place in the world and is satisfied with that place. If your life has been fortunate, you should feel makarios. We use idioms in English to try to approximate this experience. We’ll say, “My life has really come together,” or “I’m in a happy place,” or “Life has been good to me.” We are not really discussing the details of our life; we are trying to describe a feeling we have. Happy sounds trite, so we avoid it. Actually, we are makarios.

“In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that if you are a peacemaker, then you are makarios. Since English doesn't have a word for this feeling, translators have struggled to find one. What do you call it when you feel happy, content, balanced, harmonious and fortunate? Well, translators have concluded, you are blessed. Thus our English translations say, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). Unfortunately, this introduces another problem. The English language prefers clear subjects for its verbs. So the missing puzzle piece in the Beatitudes is, How is one blessed? What goes without saying in our culture is that God blesses people. Consequently, we often interpret this verse to mean, “If you are a peacemaker, then God will bless you.” But this isn't what Jesus meant. Jesus meant, “If you are a peacemaker, then you are in your happy place.” It just doesn't work well in English. Alas, here is the bigger problem: maybe the reason we North Americans struggle to find makarios in our personal lives is because we don't have a word in our native language to denote it” (75).

Isn’t that interesting?

Lord God, I ask that you would give us a hunger to be in our happy place. Now that we have an idea of what is possible, may we move towards all that you have for us. Transform us, Lord, into your image. May we walk with you, Lord God, and be holy as you are holy.

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