Beatitudes Gospel Lectio Divina Scripture Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

Building the kingdom

Approaching the end of the liturgical year and preparing for Advent draws our thoughts to the coming of the Messiah. It seems appropriate then that my last Beatitudes post also turns our attention to the Kingdom we long for:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

The final two beatitudes carry a warning alongside their promises. Jesus is always very direct with his disciples about the cost of following him. Truly to live by the values of the kingdom as he lays them out in the beatitudes is not easy. To live in that way risks causing painful misunderstandings and can lay us open to persecution.

Even with the best of intentions, and with the purest motives, our love, care and concern for others will not always be well received or understood. When that happens the temptation is to give up, to walk away from the situation.

This beatitude points us a different direction. Taking us back to the first beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in spirit” it calls us to revisit our motivations when our actions are misunderstood. We can ask ourselves what really compelled us to act. Were we really motivated by the best interests of others or did some part of us want recognition for our actions? Did we really offer help freely enough to allow it to be accepted or rejected?

It calls us to keep relying on God’s grace in every situation. Even when we are misjudged or misunderstood, even when our motivations are mixed, it calls us to keep trusting that grace and to persevere in building the kingdom however challenging the circumstances.

Where are you being called to persevere in building the kingdom today?

Gospel Lectio Divina Scripture Uncategorized

On the margins

Image by astoltz from Pixabay

Today I’ve been reflecting on Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers. I’m struck by the way it portrays marginalisation. Jesus himself is travelling through marginal territory, as he walks the border between Samaria and Galilee. The lepers have been pushed to the edges of their society, there is no situation in which they are welcomed or accepted. They bring to mind the many people who are pushed to the fringes of our society today. All those people who for one reason or another we don’t think are as valuable or as worth listening to as we are.

It seems to me that this gospel has something important to teach us. From their place on the margins, with all the desperation that entails, they are able to both recognise Jesus and to ask for his help. Maybe because they have already lost so much they are able to embrace the vulnerability of asking for Jesus’ help calling to him:

“Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.”

Their position on the fringes means they have insights that others can miss or ignore. They call us to pay attention to the margins and boundaries we experience, and to the people we find there, however challenging and difficult that might be. If we are able to find the courage and humility to do that we might, like the Samaritan leper, be able to hear Jesus say to us:

“Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Where is Christ calling you to encounter him in the marginal places of your life?