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. (Matthew 5:3-12)
We just heard Jesus’ beatitudes, part of His most famous Sermon on the Mount. Every line starts with ‘Blessed are. . ., I don’t know about you, but ”Blessed are” is then is followed by reasons that don’t seem very ‘blessed’ to me. And in other translations, the ‘blessed’ is replaced with ‘happy’.
Why would we be ‘happy’ about
Being poor in spirit,
Being hungry and thirsty?
And this reading is supposed to be Jesus teaching His disciples, people interested hearing Him, and in fact, teaches us, what it means to be His followers.
Based on the conditions to be ‘blessed’ Some of you may be thinking to yourself, ‘hey wait a minute!!’
- I don’t feel blessed!!
I have problems!!
Some of us may even have asked God, hey God what have I done wrong?
What have I done to deserve this?
And we may have even questioned whether God still loves us, whether He is real, because our lives are not easy, it’s tough!!
We may not feel blessed!!
We may feel exhausted, beaten and full of problems!!
Many people believe the way they are blessed is by doing the right thing!
- Or by being in the right place at the right time!
Or by meeting certain expectations!
If I asked you, who do you believe is blessed? Take a minute and think about that. . .
- Who comes to mind? (a sportsperson, someone wealthy, someone with a grand home, etc..)
Some even adopt the slogan ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get!’
But the blessing we receive from God are something that are totally free to us!! And it is given to us, not because of what we do, but because of who we are, children of God.
In the beatitudes Jesus is not saying that you need to be poor, meek, mourning, etc. to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Rather he is indicating that even the poor in spirit (or all the other conditions of life) will be blessed and will enter the kingdom of heaven..
Even the meek will be blessed,
they will inherit the earth,
even those who are mourning
even those who are under attack,
those who are hungry and thirsty
the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers
even those who are persecuted Jesus considers righteous. (Matthew 5:4-12)
Sometimes we believe that God has deserted us or we aren’t doing the right things to receive the grace of God, but we need to remember that Jesus says:
I am always with you (Matthew 28:20)
Remember even during the difficult times, we are still blessed. The hard times are not a sign that we are doing the wrong thing. Remember we are blessed with a reward in heaven and Jesus walking with us as we encounter difficulties.
Jesus revealed to his disciples . . and to us. . . that it is God alone who hands out His blessings, the blessing is not dependent on our actions. Rather God blesses us continually, and has blessed us with eternal life.
- When life makes you feel unworthy, the blessings of heaven will be yours
When your heart is breaking, the blessings of comfort are yours
When your fears hold you back, the blessing will be richly won
When the world ignores and betrays you, blessings come from unknown places
When your hearts is moved to mercy, the blessing is returned
When your hearts is pure and innocent, the blessing is knowing GOD
When you are moved to see the best, sow seeds of peace and seek better ways, others will bless your heart
When others take advantage and see you as weak, God has already promised you a place!
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 2 February 2014