Matthew 5:1-12 (NRSV)
Chapter 5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Verse 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
Verse 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Verse 4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Verse 5"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Verse 6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Verse 7"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Verse 8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Verse 9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Verse 10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Verse 11"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Verse 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Theme for this week: Praise for the experience of God’s goodness
Only from the experience of the awe and wonder of an Encounter do these words begin to make sense. Short of that, it just becomes one more measuring stick to check out how we are doing—whether we are sufficiently poor in spirit to merit the blessing, whether we are sufficiently merciful to merit the mercy. This is the way the secular world thinks, but it will never do.
No, these things reflect the hand of God, not the likes of us. There is the authority of the Bringer of the Eschaton in the declarations. There is the vision of a generous Kingdom that was only then being inaugurated in the blessings. These are things given to the expectant spirit, not something striven for. These are things we may start to see as people who are watching for God’s reign—blessing, and blessing, and blessing, where we least expect it, from God’s own self.
Your kingdom come, O Lord. The world is full of turmoil, and we feel it in our guts. In the midst of it all, hold us close, and bless us, as you said. Your kingdom come, O Lord. Amen.