Matthew 5. 1-12
Perhaps, like me, you feel as though this year could be a ‘bumpy ride’. The world, our communities even, seem to be divided along so many fault lines. Without proper care about how we behave, our complicity in making these fractures will cause us to stumble and fall into chasms of our own making.
All the more reason to turn our eyes to Jesus and follow his example. He’s the one who showed us how to love well. Jesus showed us God’s love and the love we were created to give. Jesus taught us to include – not exclude; Jesus is the one who warned us against causing people to stumble and fall; Jesus is the one who lived and moved amongst those who were dispossessed in the deeply divided world of the time. So Jesus gives us a clear example to follow. It’s because of Jesus’ example that Christians believe that faith must be practiced in both words and activities that lead to flourishing life.
The Gospel writer Matthew recalls, in chapter 5:1–12, how Jesus taught that we are blessed when we are merciful; when we are peacemakers; and when we are persecuted for following Jesus’ way, copying his example. Because of Jesus’ words and actions then, I think he would tell us now:–
You are blessed when you hold on to every shred of integrity you have that contributes to human flourishing and fulness of life for all, no matter who tells you to think differently;
You are blessed when you join the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, the abuse of disabled people (the list goes on).
You are blessed when you live simply, when you share and when you challenge greed, whenever and however it rears its ugly head;
You are blessed when you are as happy to give as to receive and live generously;
You are blessed when you show mercy, when you keep loving, forgiving and healing;
You are blessed when you seize every opportunity to build stronger and kinder communities where you live and work;
You are blessed when you do not stay silent when you witness oppression, even if it costs you, because, in the long run, the human price of not doing so is so much greater;
You are blessed when you speak up for this precious earth, because it’s the only home we have in the universe, it is God created, with an intended richness of variety and interdependent diversity;
You are blessed when you create opportunities for laughter, prayer, conversation and pondering with people who think differently from you about life and about God;
You are blessed when you include people and resist any suggestion that you should exclude;
You are blessed when you create opportunities and take chances to meet and talk with the people other folks would have you believe are different – unwelcome even.
And why are we blessed when we behave like this? Because in doing so, we demonstrate what God’s Kingdom is like.
So, whenever we copy Jesus’ example, we are bringing about God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” (in God’s Kingdom) even now. Faith is a way of life as much as belief. If we don’t copy Jesus’ example, we add to divisiveness – even if we stay silent.
Jesus said, “You are blessed when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in
heaven.” (Matthew 5:11–12a)
Revd Janine Atkinson