Monday, June 11, 2018
Today, in Mercy, we begin several weeks of readings from Matthew’s Gospel. In today’s passage, Jesus starts out by turning the world upside-down!
In the earlier chapters of his Gospel, Matthew has set the tone for the announcement of Jesus’ message – a new reign of grace and glory. The crowds gather in great anticipation. Most are overwhelmed and beleaguered by life under Roman occupation. Many hope for a political Messiah who will deliver them from their current circumstances, returning to them the material control of their lives.
Instead, Jesus announces that:
“The kingdom of God can only be received by empty hands. Jesus warns against
(a) worldly self-sufficiency: you trust yourself and your own resources and don’t need God
(b) religious self-sufficiency: you trust your religious attitude and moral life and don’t need Jesus.”
~ Michael H. Crosby, Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Vision for the Church in an Unjust World
We are so used to hearing the Beatitudes that they may have become tamed for us — lovely consolations to the downtrodden that things will eventually be OK. On the contrary, the Sermon on the Mount proclaims a shocking message to those gathered with Jesus — AND to us. The radical blessedness of life is to be found within our ordinary joys and sorrows, embraced humbly, faithfully and joyfully. It is to be found in right-relationship with all Creation, not in any kind of dominance by one over another – political, economic, or personal.
The poor in spirit, the meek, the bereaved, the justice-seekers, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted: Jesus says these people are blessed – even FORTUNATE – because there are no barriers between them and the fullness of God. Power, prestige and possessions block us, perhaps even cripple us, from our shared immersion in God’s ever-present love and grace.
It is likely that many who gathered on that Galilean Hill didn’t want to hear Jesus’ astonishing message. Their myopic vision of prosperity was turned upside down. They were challenged to an unexpected, comfort-shattering, radical blessedness. Would they accept the challenge? Will we?
Music: Blessings ~ Laura Story