"Blessed are" begins a list of sentences. "Blessed" may be translated as "joyful" or "deeply happy." Look at both words--blessed and are. Those who are poor in spirit, or who mourn, or who are meek--they are--not some day will be--they are blessed.
The reason for their joy does lie in the future--they will be comforted and inherit the earth, but still in the present tense is "theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
As I look back over these assertions of happiness made by Christ, I wonder at my own attitude. Do I see the possibility of blessedness for the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek? And, if I can do so, do I then wonder at what is being given up by those who are not poor in spirit or do not mourn or are not meek?
Sometimes I interpret this passage along the lines of "Since bad things do happen to good and bad people alike through their own doing and sometimes despite of their doing everything right, they can be comforted in knowing that God is with them and will support them through their difficulties. And, sometimes, I interpret it to mean that as long as I think that I am in total charge of my happiness and don't need God's help, then I am by that decision forsaking long-term happiness.
The church of Jesus Christ sees its life in two frames of reference. First, it sees what everyone else sees, too--the world of human history, a world of struggle in which the works and serves and lives out its mission. Based on the evidence from this world alone, there is little reason for hope or joy. War follows upon war, might makes right, and the innocent suffer every day.
But the church also possesses a second frame of reference. It sees what others do not see, that God is at work in this world even today and will surely bring all creation to a time of peace and rejoicing. This hoped-for time is the kingdom of heaven. For the world, the kingdom is a sure future; for the faithful, the kingdom is a present reality, giving strength and encouragement to its work.
Children of God, Reflection on 1 John 3:1-3
"We will be like him." In what ways? Will we love? Will we suffer? Will we overcome suffering? Will we reach out to the unlovable? Other ways? Any or all of these?
John is both reassuring us and challenging us. Hope for what we may become helps us to make the effort now.
(with thanks to William Loader, First Thoughts.