This Sunday’s Lectionary reading from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5 verses 1 to 12 are well known to many, oft debated and for this pilgrim deeply comforting, challenging and troubling all at the same instant.
On the top of a hillside (away from the crowds the passage notes) Christ explains to His followers what a fulfilled life consists of…
“You’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope”.
“You’re blessed when you feel you have lost what is most dear to you”.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are”.
“You’re blessed when you have worked up a good appetite for God”.
“You’re blessed when you care”.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world- your mind and heart put right”.
“You’re blessed when you show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight”.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution”.
“…count yourselves blessed everytime people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me”.
(Matthew 5 verses 3 to 12, The Message Paraphrase).
As well known and as “comforting” as the Beatitudes are to those lost, hungry, persecuted or not sure of who they are, the same teachings point to a Kingdom that is about…
Being hungry yet filled. Persecuted yet safe. Unsure about oneself but yet “found” at the same moment. It doesn’t lend itself to a logical way of thinking one might argue. Or what normally passes for “happiness” and “well-being”.
It’s the topsy turvy, upside down world that Christ asks all of His followers to experience and share no matter how “imperfectly”.
Balm to the soul…yes but in living a full life for Christ maybe a fire in the belly too that is not afraid to upset and challenge what ails the world. We may not be “poor” or “hungry” or “lost” but are we upset for those, in this life who are?
It was the recently departed Civil Rights activist John Lewis who coined the term “good trouble”. The kind of “trouble” that led to change not only in the 1960’s America but across the globe. My own wee part of the world was to be significantly impacted by the American Civil Rights movement.
“Good trouble”. Knowing that our worth is not in having or accumulating or avoiding the pain of the world…
Rather, somehow knowing that our broken bits and our best bits when offered may lead to some “good trouble” but ultimately the redemption of the world.
And that I trust, is what it is to be blessed.
Picture courtesy of @savbrown