Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Jesus saw the crowds...we are often so quick to race and run to the familiar words of the beatitudes that we miss the fact that Jesus saw the crowds.  Jesus gaze is not just a passing glace.  What he observes awakens something deep within.  Jesus is not just pontificating or philosophizing here. Jesus is not talking abstractly or setting about propositions.  Jesus is saying the poor in spirit who are standing right there.  Jesus is saying those who mourn who are right here in the crowd.  Part of what we miss in the sermon on the mount is that we have turned it into Orthodoxy (something to believe) rather than Orthopraxy (a way to live).  The sermon on the mount is not just good advice and a way to organize our mental furniture...it is a pathway to walk. 

Matthew is making a theological claim here putting this teaching on the heels of calling the disciples.  If Jesus is calling to us, it is going to mean dropping our nets (the ideas and insights we cling to and our ways of living in the world) in order to go about the way of God's world.  God's world is where the poor in spirit are not seen as "others" or "outsiders" or "those people"...but God's world is one where the poor in spirit are seen for their humanity.  Where mourning cannot be confined to a funeral service, but might even be a daily practice.  Each day there is brokenness inside us and outside of us that needs to be grieved...but we have been taught and told to push it down...chin up...keep calm and carry on.

To broaden this just a bit more...I think a better way to read the word "Blessed" is "Beloved."  As in the name Jesus was called by God at his baptism.  As in Jesus now saying, "It isn't just me who has this special call and claim from God...it is you.  You are God's beloved.  You on the fringes and fray of the world are God's beloved."  And if God's beloved tend to hang out, hover on the edges of society it might behoove us to go there too. 

So may if we question our call in discipleship, we need to get outside the bubble of comfort and even complacency.  If we need to explore what it looks like to follow Jesus, maybe it will mean looking around at the very people society tends to not notice or see or value.  Maybe if we wonder where is Jesus calling to us right here and now, it is among the very population that are cast as un-loveable or unwanted...because from the very beginning that is who Jesus called, "Beloved."

So may we find ways to live discipleship daily with the lost...least...left behind...and may we find more than a trace of God's grace in those encounters.

Blessings

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