Take 2 or 3 minutes of your time and watch the scene from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” where Christ on the hillside is preaching to the many as to what the Kingdom of God looks like and is “lived like”. (Excuse the grammar).
Many will know this story from the Gospel of Matthew as “The Sermon on the Mount”. It is very well known, maybe sometimes too well known…
Back to the scene from Python’s “Life of Brian”.
The scene sees Christ speaking at the top of his voice to a large crowd. The camera draws back, to the very edge of the crowd where no one can quite hear what Christ is saying.
Straining to hear Christ, arguing over what they think he is saying, someone tries to update the main characters by announcing…”I think he said, ‘Blessed are the cheese makers'”.
“Cheese makers?” “He said what? Blessed are the cheese makers?”
“Blessed are the cheese makers.”
Funny, yes. Making a point that Christ’s teachings as to a way of Christian living that can be difficult to pick up on, understand and live by…for me, also a yes.
Here’s is this week’s Gospel reading. Without the cheese…
The Gospel reading.
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As totemic as they are, Christ’s teachings on what it means to be “blessed”, “happy” “at ease” with God and man (you might argue) are almost entirely counter cultural.
Certainly to a western world view that often sees being blessed, or happy or at ease as in having, in being successful, triumphant even. Not that such hopes are wrong in and of themselves. Just not always attainable let alone actually offering “self actualisation” as Mazlow viewed as humanity’s best “state”.
Its just that… to be “blessed” according to the Master’s teaching involves some difficult ways of thinking and then doing.
Thinking of ourselves as “blessed”…
When we are “poor in spirit”,
When we are in “mourning”,
When we are “meek”,
When we are “hungry”, “thirsty” for the right thing to be done.
Doing what the world needs to be blessed by…
In being merciful,
In being pure in heart,
In being peacemakers,
In being persecuted for right living,
In being insulted and shamed in acknowledging the name of Christ.
Christ’s teachings as shared on the hillside millennia ago are so, so much more than a set of rules to follow. The Beatitudes are a way of life, a hard and at times costly way of life…
Four challenges in how we think about ourselves and others when “poor in spirit”, “mourning”, “meek” and “hungry for righteousness”.
Five challenges in how we live, for ourselves and others, in being merciful, pure, peacemakers and should it come, persecuted and insulted for such right living, indeed for Christ Himself.
The Sermon on the Mount is a call to each of us, in the name of Christ to look inward and outward at the same time. To be “blessed” is to learn through good and not so good times that God’s Kingdom and a full life (however defined) often comes when we know our dependence is on Christ alone and in serving others caught in the trauma of their brokenness.
Oh. Let’s not forget…as a cheese lover, actually, “Blessed are the cheese makers!” Monty Python definitely got that right!
In light of Christ’s teachings, how might your experience of brokenness meet and serve the world’s brokenness and bring blessing?
Picture courtesy of @savbrown.