2. The First Beatitude

Blessed are those who feel their spiritual need, for the kingdom of God belongs to them.
Matt. 5:3. (Edgar J. Goodspeed Version)

Set before us in these windows are the qualities of character that every Christian should strive to develop. The Beatitudes are not so much principles as attitudes toward life. In each Beatitude a quality of character is described and a promise made to those who achieve this quality in their living.

This window portrays the Pharisee and the Publican who went into the temple to pray. (Luke 18:10-14) On first sight the Pharisee dominates the scene. He is a man of importance in the community, a man of wealth and influence. He is dressed with the best taste. His garments are beautifully tailored of the best material the money can buy. His whole manner and bearing are evidence of his prestige and position. Men and women come at his beck and call. They make way for him when he walks through the streets. They heed his judgments and follow his decisions.

With skill and imagination the artist has made the hands of this man the dominant symbol in this painting. They are a caricature. "See me," they say, "see what I have done with my hands." With our skyscrapers, rockets, atomic power and industrial skills, see what we have done. How ludicrous this figure is.

Only on first sight does the Pharisee dominate this scene. On closer examination we see the Publican on his knees, praying, "Lord have mercy on me a sinner." Life is often like this. People who claim the limelight for themselves, those who make a display of their wealth, intellect and power, are seen first, but on closer examination one finds the most treasured values in those who are unassuming. The beginning and the end of the Christian life is found by those who feel their spiritual need.


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