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July 22, 2019

Scripture Mark 5:1-5

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....

Matthew 5:1-2a NRSV

Our scripture presents the initial portion of the Sermon on the Mount. The verses that follow are called the Beatitudes. Most people of the Christian faith have at least a passing understanding of this portion of a particular sermon from Jesus. Instead of describing favorable traits for those gathered to hear Jesus, and for all of us who believe in Christ, Jesus declared that these particular persons are not only blessed by God, but they possess a deep joy because they are in communion with God. Like salvation itself, this inner joy comes from a sense of unity with God. Jesus is telling us that this is created and given by God. It is not something that you and I create for ourselves, nor can we earn it by taking on particular traits or behaviors.

Instead, Jesus was telling a new story. He directs our attention to the most vulnerable and least respected portion of the population and society in Palestine. The affluent, wealthy, and politically connected were not mentioned at all by Jesus. It is as if these persons were promoting themselves in order to gain God’s attention. But, Jesus proclaims that those who failed to receive any notice among society are the very ones to receive the direct benefit of God’s full attention: Because, Jesus had brought the kingdom of God to humankind.

Through our belief in God, we faithfully approach our lives and our living through the continual filter of Christ Jesus, and him crucified, as the apostle Paul wrote (1 Cor 1:23). But also, we need to remember that Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to reign with God: He remains a powerful agent of change and a continual blessing for us all. And, these blessings especially go to those who cannot get a break, those who cannot pull themselves out of the hole of grief, and those who look to God for justice and mercy.

Because of this Good News, we know that God holds the key to new life and the abundant goodness that we know in Christ. And, God chooses to give this blessing: this sense of deep, abiding grace, to those who are not included in the upper reaches of society, while setting aside those who seem the most pious and religious. After all, God knows what is in our hearts. God knows what is right. Indeed, God sent us Jesus, the Messiah, to demonstrate this to us throughout his time on Earth.

And, thanks to the power of the Risen Christ, we receive these insights, again and again.

Stan Reid


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