Sunday Readings: Zephaniah 2.3, 3.12-13; 1 Corinthians 1.26-31; Matthew 5.1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountainside. After he sat down, his disciples gathered around him, and Jesus began to teach them.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the sorrowing, for they shall be consoled.
Blessed are those of low status; they shall inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness, or they shall have their fill.
Blessed are they who show mercy, for mercy shall be theirs.
Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall see God.
Blessed, too, are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of holiness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are you when people insult and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you.
Be glad and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great (Matthew 5.1-12).
In Jesus’ time all wealth flowed toward Rome. In our time all wealth has flowed toward the wealthiest 1%, 10%, yet God accompanies us in our lives and blesses 100% of us. The beatitudes challenge us to think twice about what we consider God’s blessings and recognize the blessings we find in our own experiences of losing status, of mourning loved ones, of hungering for fairness.
Even more, beatitudes call us to be the blessing people need, especially those who live in poverty or oppression. Jesus lived among the poor and saw injustice around him. The kingdom Jesus envisions values people who are poor and blesses those who suffer with the sorrowing, endure hunger and thirst for food and for justice, who show mercy.
Jesus uses the word blessed nine times in the beatitudes. Blessed, berakhah in Hebrew, is not a verb, but rather an adjective that affirms God’s creative goodness at work. Jesus teaches that when we live the beatitudes, we live God’s way with love and justice for all.
Lists of the beatitudes usually include only eight. The last beatitude repeats the eighth but changes voice from the third person to the second person, addressing us, the readers. It challenges us to live Jesus’ teaching and continue his mission even if bringing the poor and hungry to our tables causes persecution.
Which beatitude comes closest to how you live your life right now? Who do you bless with loving actions in your daily life?