“I have many years magnify’d in my own mind and repeated to you, a ninth Beatitude added to the eight in Scripture,” wrote Alexander Pope to his fellow poet John Gay, ‘Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.’ Having great expectations can indeed leave us disappointed at times although perhaps having no expectations of ourselves or of others can create a rather uninspiring world, and leave us living simply in response to things as they happen.
The words of Jesus may be a rather tall order. Perhaps we may be able to pray for those who persecute us, or those who have hurt or harmed us in some way but being perfect as God is perfect – surely that’s setting us up to fail? And yet this remains our hope and destiny.
‘Every saint has a past and every sinner a future,’ wrote Oscar Wilde for one of his play’s characters. Whilst our past may plague us at times, our life is full of future possibilities. Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything that can’t be achieved. He draws us deeper into the life of God, slowly fashions and changes us, makes us and moulds us – if we are open to his grace. We live in expectation of Heaven. This is our hope, this is our destiny. It’s a great expectation but one that, thanks to Christ, is quite possible!
God our Father, help us to live in eager expectation of heaven, following your Son in this life to the glory that is to come. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.