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    Nov 05, 2017

    What Does Blessed Look LIke?

    Passage: Matthew 5:1-12

    Speaker: Vivian McCarthy

    Category: Jesus' Teachings

    The Beatitudes, especially on All Saints Sunday, show us that Jesus taught that things like meekness, being persecuted, and being merciful in a merciless world are actually blessings from God! In His first teaching in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus showed us the radical reordering of priorities of the Reign of God.

    From very early in the stories of God’s people, God made a promise to Abram. Childless at an advanced age, his name hadn’t even been changed to Abraham yet when God promised Abram that he would have descendants and then told him that he was blessed to be a blessing. Clearly, Abram was not to keep the blessing to himself. He and his descendants were to make a difference in the lives of others.

    Fast-forwarding a couple thousand years, Matthew tells us that Jesus began his teaching ministry on a hillside telling people that they, too, were blessed. But, Jesus’ words must have sounded very strange. Actually, if you just stop and think a moment, they sound at least just as strange to modern ears. Blessed when poor in spirit, in mourning, object of hatred?

    Jesus always challenged the conventional. He came to reorient us to God’s ways. He came to show how we often confuse the stories of God’s reign with the stories of worldly powers. You know what I mean – those tantalizing stories that might makes right, that power and property are the measure of human life, that those who have power and riches are the ones who count.

    Jesus’ stories challenged every one of those ideas. He even challenged the religious powerful – the ones who sought to shut out those whom they saw as unacceptable. And not only was his message strange. His behavior was even more so. Eating with sinners. Touching the lepers. Teaching women. Ignoring the religious rules. Just what kind of Messiah was that?

    The kind that crossed barriers. That reached out to those who had no hope. That made sure people were fed – body and spirit.

    When he taught, people recognized themselves in his message. He’s talking to me!  He’s telling me that I am blessed – poor, lowly, hungry, hated, suffering. He’s showing me that when I do the unexpected and show mercy where the rules say there’s no need, I am blessed. Their hearts swelled with hope.

    Then – and perhaps only then – they could hear the message at the end of the Beatitudes: rejoice and be glad!

    The saints of God are those who seek to live out this kind of radical shift – to speak hope into hopeless situations, to lift those that society sees as unfit, to live out Jesus’ simple, basic message: Love God and Love your neighbor.

    Today as we celebrate our saints who have joined the heavenly host, perhaps you will be able to remember a moment or two when your loved one’s life was a blessing – when they were selfless – when they modeled Christlike mercy, or grace or love.