Our Gospel lesson is Matthew 5:1-12, taken today from the New International Version (NIV).

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “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 be shown 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 because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

In His first teaching Jesus gives us a list of things that don’t sound like the blessings people expected. Most thought the Messiah would come as a mighty king in glory and power, bringing victory and restoration. Instead He is a quiet man who preaches peace and humble service.

This was a hard lesson for many to accept – no sudden change of fortune and leadership, no revenge on those who been the oppressors. Jesus says they are blessed when they accept God’s will in all circumstances, joyous or difficult, and He calls them to be part of how God will bless the world. This is a surprise to many of them as well.

Jesus says we are blessed when we search for ways to love others even when they don’t love us. God’s love for us isn’t based on what the world thinks, but on how we show the world our connection with Him. We are all blessed when we choose to follow Christ, no matter the cost.

Gracious God, we are thankful for all Your many blessings. Help us to live out Your word in our relationship with others, continuing the work You call us to do. Amen.

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