On the eighth day of Christmas … eight maids-a-milking. This day’s gift in the song can stand for the eight beatitudes that Jesus preached about during the Sermon on the Mount. After calling Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching, preaching, and healing the sick. Crowds began to gather to see His good works and to hear the good news of His kingdom. “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:1–12).
We have been conditioned in our society to think that strength is a measure of one’s physical prowess or that success is measured by how large a treasure you’ve stored up, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Take the story of Samson (Judges 13–16). He was so strong that he killed 1,000 Philistine men with only the jawbone of a donkey. Yet when Delilah cut his hair, he lost all his strength – until he realized that his strength was not his own, but instead was God’s strength being used through him. Jesus also tells us to beware of loving money (or other idols) more than God. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:19–21, 24).
Both in Jesus’ time and now, this kind of language is hard to understand for many people. Jesus is elevating people who seem to us to be “losers.” To be “poor in spirit” however, is to be humble. Humility in the Lord is the understanding that all blessings come from God’s love to us. If you humble yourself before God, you are capable of admitting your sin, repenting, and embracing the kingdom of heaven. Jesus isn’t talking about “those who mourn” the loss of life here on earth. Jesus is talking about mourning our own sinful nature to be able to ask for God’s forgiveness, renewing us in Him, and bringing us comfort by the grace of God. A “meek” person is someone who has self-control; someone who is gentle and kind. If we are meek in the Lord, we will have peace and tranquility in this world. We should all “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” meaning we have an appetite for God’s virtue and justice. We can only find that in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
God first showed us mercy by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for all our sins. We are called to do the same. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36). If we are “merciful” and show love and empathy to one another, our relationships with one another will be peaceful and fruitful. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14–15). To be “pure of heart” means to be free of selfish desires and self-seeking motives. Jesus demonstrated this by sacrificing His own life for the redemption and salvation of all. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3). To be a “peacemaker” means to not just have a peaceful life, but to share peace and friendship with others, to show others the love of our Father in Heaven. Matthew 5:10–12 gives us the hope of salvation, even in the face of certain persecution and death in Jesus’ name. In America, we don’t face much persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ, thanks be to God. However, many are persecuted around the world. If you find yourself being persecuted for your faith in Him someday, REJOICE and BE GLAD in Him!
”The Twelve Days of Christmas” song image is by Xavier Romero-Frias and used under Creative Commons license BY-SA 3.0.