Sunday, January 29, 2017

Blessed are we

4th Sunday of OT Year A:
Today, Jesus sits down to teach us.  Jesus is the new Moses.  He is on the mountain.  The gospel says that his disciples came to him.  So, last week we reflected on being called to be his disciples and how we can help others hear the voice of Jesus.  But, today we get to hear that voice directly.  And what’s the first word out of his mouth: blessed.
We normally call this passage the beatitudes, because of the Latin word beatus, which is the word used in this passage.  This is a very popular passage.  It is used often at funerals and weddings.  I’m not sure if we have all of these memorized, but just about anyone could probably give us a few of the beatitudes.  But, what part of the message sticks out for you?  Normally, I hear these passages as a list of attributes or actions that I’m supposed to do, kind of like the 10 Commandments.  However, I tried to focus instead on the results.  Jesus says we will be blessed.
This is an interesting word.  Blessed means happy, fortunate, lucky, chosen.  When was the last time you really felt luck or fortunate?  When I was a kid I used to collect baseball cards.  One day I went to the baseball card shop in Southtown mall (remember when there was actually a southtown mall?).  I bought a couple packs of cards.  While opening one pack I discovered this super rare Frank Thomas card that was worth like 50$.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so lucky.  I can still remember to this day the feeling of getting so lucky, so fortunate. 
When was the last time you felt so fortunate?  Maybe a check in the mail.  Maybe a promotion at work.  Maybe a good grade on a test.  How about the time you realized the gift that God wants to give you?  Today I think we should all stop to appreciate just how fortunate we are to have Jesus in our lives.
Listen again to this impressive list:
·      Theirs is the kingdom of heaven
·      They will be comforted
·      They will inherit the land
·      They will be satisfied
·      They will be shown mercy
·      They will see God
·      They will be called children of God
·      Your reward will be great in heaven.
Now, when I was a kid I was pretty excited about that dumb baseball card (I just looked it up, it’s worth like $5 now…).  And yet, by being disciples of Jesus he promises: mercy, land, heaven, comfort.  What an impressive list.
Now, make no mistake, being a follower of Jesus is no simple task: poor in spirit, humble, seeking righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, even persecutions.  But, when you hold these up to the rewards, how blessed are we indeed.  We are lucky, fortunate, chosen, blessed.
I think that reflecting on this list can really be helpful.  By remembering that all of this is really “Good News.”  We can renew our sense of joy for the gospel.  And believe me, we all need that joy.  Life can be tough.  We can face sickness, financial difficulties, the loss of a loved one, tensions, stress and anxiety.  And yet, a Christian who is mindful of the great promises of Christ, will always be filled with joy, even in tough times.

See if you can spend some time this week with this gospel.  Listen again to the words of Jesus.  I know we have all heard this passage a million times.  But, let it hit you all over brand new.  These are the first words of Jesus’ sermon on the mount.  This is the very first message he wants to give to each one of us.  We are blessed, we are fortunate, we are lucky.  We have found the Christ.  No matter what we face in life, this good news will fill us with joy. 

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