When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Mt 5:1-12a)
One of my professors in the seminary — a long time ago — told us, “You had best get used to it right now. If you become priests, you are going to be counter-cultural. Everything the world espouses, you will reject. Everything you espouse, the world will reject. You’re in for one heck of a ride.” That may not be a real motivator; however, it certainly is the truth.
You can imagine the crowds assembled to hear Jesus. They want to hear that things will be different. They want to hear that Jesus will deliver them from the dullness, despair, and outright tragedy of their lives. Yet, Jesus tells them that they are blessed if they are poor, meek, lowly, hungry, and sorrowful. Jesus applauds peacemakers rather than those who cause division. Jesus acknowledges insult and persecution against His followers.
“That’s not for me”, the typical person of the world would say. “I want money and power and prestige and fame and influence over others. I do not want to suffer or want for anything ever again. I want reward, here and now.”
All of that is possible. If a person is willing to fight for it, a person can gain almost anything on this earth. However, in the process, that person will be in danger of losing his or her soul.
The world cannot deliver us. Only Jesus can deliver us from the world.
It is okay to be counter-cultural. It is okay to remind people that the world is not the be all and end all of everything. It is even okay if we suffer for delivering that message because our reward is not here. Our reward will be in heaven.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for the meek, the lowly, the humble, the outcast and all of those who are poor in spirit, that they may receive all that they need.