While broadcasting from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Father Dave welcomes Father Casey Cole to discuss his workshop and book called “The Way of Beatitude: Living Radical Hope in a World of Division and Despair.”
Before diving into the Beatitudes, they recap Father Casey’s summer as one of the “Bleacher Brothers,” who traveled to all 30 Major League ballparks to evangelize at baseball games.
“The crazy thing about it was we watched very little baseball,” he explains. “We watched the first two innings, and then we would just walk around the stadium, let people talk to us and engage people. So we actually saw very little of the games, we were just in an environment where tens of thousands of people were [present].”
Father Casey says, “People would come up to us and tell us things I’m sure they hadn’t told anyone else. So we didn’t want to proselytize, we didn’t go up and say, ‘Have you heard about Jesus?’ No one really likes that…We were just talking about baseball as a way to get in. They obviously love baseball, so let’s talk about that. Then we’d end the conversation with, ‘Can we pray for you in some way?’ Because who doesn’t love to be prayed for. Then they would say, ‘Well, actually, I’m going through a difficult time right now.’”
They then discuss his Beatitudes workshop at the LA Religious Education Congress. Father Casey says, “In the Beatitudes, we find hope in the suffering, not despite the suffering, not as a silver lining, because it gives us greater dependence on God. [That suffering] helps us grow in empathy, and it focuses us on what really matters: the kingdom of God. The whole point of the Beatitudes isn’t some future reality, but that the kingdom is in [our brokenness]. It’s in the here and now, and can you find the kingdom of heaven in your suffering?”
Father Dave notes how, in our humanness, we want to avoid suffering at all costs. Father Casey agrees and responds, “Go on to Instagram, what are you going to find? People with their nice cars, with their nice vacation, and they say ‘#blessed,’ right? No one’s out saying, ‘Well, I just got evicted and living on the street, #blessed.’ And yet, you read the Beatitudes and you say, I think maybe that’s what Jesus wants for me. Why would he want me to suffer?”
He continues, “When you have stuff, you depend on yourself, when you don’t have stuff, you depend on God. And once you’ve gone through suffering, you can now see other people suffering and say, ‘I see you, you’re my people, and we’re in this together.’ This stuff doesn’t matter, all that matters is salvation and finding the kingdom of God.”