Our Gospel lesson this week is Matthew 5:1-12, taken today from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “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.
Jesus begins His teachings with a list of blessings, however not the kind they expected. No crushing of their oppressors, no revenge for past wrongs, instead we hear ”blessed are the peacemakers”. We all want peace but we want it on our terms!
Jesus comes to teach us of our individual blessings, a diverse set of gifts from God to build His kingdom. These are attributes God gives us to be able to fulfill His purpose, not ours. He gives us strength of a different kind, not political or military power.
God wants us to stand strong against the powers of the world and only by rejecting those ways can we meet that task. Each of us must accept these gifts for ourselves. While we work together as His children, each must make the decision to accept His blessing and His path for us.
Loving Lord, help us to understand the gifts You give us and use them properly. May we work earnestly and energetically to share the joy of Your kingdom with the world. Amen.