Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gospel text for All Saints and All Souls 29 October 2017

Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Reflection       With his words of blessing Jesus is turning the world of the status quo upside down. It is not the people who are content, satisfied, cunning, fulfilled, ruthless, scheming or admired that are blessed.  These are the people who stay home, securing their power and privilege, uninterested in Jesus message. Socially and politically speaking they are the fortunate, prosperous, undefeated people. They seek nothing more because they believe they have it all.

Today Jesus is addressing  seekers.  Seekers are seeking something which by definition means they have a sense of something missing, something more they long for. It is this very longing for something more that is the seed of blessing. When people do not have the means to eat or care for their family, they long for food and shelter. They long for God’s blessing. When brokenhearted, people ache and cry in anguish for what is lost, they long for something more, they long for God’s blessing. When people have everything they need; power, privilege and esteem, yet still feel empty and unfulfilled, they too long for something more, they long for God’s blessing. 

Here is the thing. Blessing does not flow into fullness. Blessing flows into open empty receptivity. 

When we are poor in spirit, we are empty, we hunger for God. When we mourn, we are desolate, we weep for God.  When we are meek,  we are yielding, we submit to God. When we are righteous we are civil, we are obedient to God. When we are merciful we are humane, we allow God’s generosity to flow through us. When we are pure in heart, we are transparent, we act with integrity and reveal God’s goodness. When we are peacemakers we nurture relationships among people and with God . And when we do all of these things we are revealing the kingdom of heaven on earth. It is no wonder the forces of evil explode to persecute and annihilate us because the keepers of the status quo do not want the kingdom of heaven to prevail on earth. 

I believe this  is why Jesus concludes the first part of his famous mountaintop sermon proclaiming, “"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad…” The people who revile and persecute the disciples and us are the protectors of the status quo, the ones who are full of themselves. The something more that we seek cannot be bought, weighed and measured. The something more we seek cannot be kept in storehouses, off shore accounts or behind thick walls. The something more we seek is the kingdom of heaven right here, right now on earth, available to all people without exception.

As goodness rises, evil escalates and the spiraling chaos and false accusations are reasons to “rejoice and be glad” because it means the kingdom of heaven is prevailing. The old ways of self-satisfaction and adulation, pride and pretension,  disrespect and disobedience, cruelty and greed, deceit and dishonor, agitation and corruption are tripping over one another in  the Danse Macabre, the Dance of their Death.  The protectors of the old ways are confronted by  their own fragility and the specious nature of their superficial lives. 

Blessed are the poor, the mourners and the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure of heart and the peacemakers because in their open, empty receptivity they receive and reveal the kingdom of heaven right here, right now in the midst of all kinds of evil. So, rejoice and be glad!

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