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Beatitudes Gospel Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

Mourning and consolation

Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

Jesus tells his followers:
“Blessed that those who mourn: they shall be comforted.”
In the wake of the Covid pandemic this third Beatitude seems particularly relevant. It resonates deeply with the experience we’ve lived through in the past 18 months. Suffering, and the grief and mourning it brings has always been part of human experience, but they are particularly present in the face of a pandemic that has left us with much to grieve over.

Our grief covers a whole spectrum. There are the griefs that we recognise as significant and life changing, and there are other griefs that we dismiss as small or less significant. Wherever our grief falls on that spectrum Covid has left us all mourning. As we begin tentatively to rebuild our lives it’s tempting to turn away from that truth, to push it aside, denying it or burying it.

Jesus calls us to take a different approach. In his life he was not afraid to acknowledge his pain. He wept openly with Martha and Mary at the death of their brother, and again over the fate of Jerusalem. To show our pain can leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed, especially in a society that expects us to be in control and on top of things. This beatitude reminds us that it’s important to acknowledge and to share our grief. It is by creating spaces in our lives where we can mourn our losses together that we will find the comfort and consolation that Jesus promises us.

Where do you need to be consoled at this time in your life?

Categories
Beatitudes Gospel Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

Learning gentleness

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

“Blessed are the gentle, they shall inherit the earth.”

In many ways this sums up all of the Beatitudes, and the whole gospel message. At its heart is the call to love as Jesus did, without distinction or discrimination, not asking if the love is deserved, acknowledge or even recognised.

Gentleness is not a fashionable attribute. In times like ours that value assertiveness and individualism it can be dismissed as weakness. In this beatitude, and in the gospel as a whole, Jesus shows us another way. He openly proclaims that he is gentle saying:

“Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

His gentleness is apparent throughout the gospel in the loving service he offers to those around him. From the wedding at Cana to the post resurrection breakfast he cooks on the shore, his life is marked by a real desire to care for those around him. We see it when he refuses to turn the crowds away hungry even though his disciples tell him that the don’t have enough food. It’s apparent as he weeps over Jerusalem, and as he comforts his mother and beloved disciple from the cross.

This gentleness is very far from being weakness. It has a strength that can build and maintain communities and relationships even in the toughest of circumstances. Imitating the gentleness of Christ leads us to those daily acts of kindness that renew and sustain our neighbours and our communities. It calls us to a myriad of actions that, while they may seem small, can make people feel valued, cared for and safe.

How are you being called to learn gentleness today?

Categories
Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

Mourning and Consolation

Image by 1388843 from pixabay.com

Jesus tells his followers:
“Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted.”

In the wake of the Covid pandemic this third Beatitude seems particularly relevant. It resonates deeply with the experience we’ve lived through in the past 18 months. Suffering, and the grief and mourning it brings has always been part of human experience, but they are particularly present in the face of a pandemic that has left us with much to grieve over.

Our grief covers a whole spectrum. There are the griefs that we recognise as significant and life changing, and there are other griefs that we dismiss as small or less significant. Wherever our grief falls on that spectrum Covid has left us all mourning. As we begin tentatively to rebuild our lives it’s tempting to turn away from that truth, to push it aside, denying it or burying it.

Jesus calls us to take a different approach. In his life he was not afraid to acknowledge his pain. He wept openly with Martha and Mary at the death of their brother, and again over the fate of Jerusalem.

To show our pain can leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed, especially in a society that expects us to be in control and on top of things. This beatitude reminds us that it’s important to acknowledge and to share our grief. It is by creating spaces in our lives where we can mourn our losses together that we will find the comfort and consolation that Jesus promises us.

Where do you need to be consoled at this time in your life?

Categories
Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

With Gentle Strength

Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武) from pixabay.com

“Blessed are the gentle, they shall inherit the earth.”
In many ways this sums up all of the Beatitudes, and the whole gospel message. At its heart is the call to love as Jesus did, without distinction or discrimination, not asking if the love is deserved, acknowledge or even recognised.

Gentleness is not a fashionable attribute. In times like ours that value assertiveness and individualism it can be dismissed as weakness. In this beatitude, and in the gospel as a whole, Jesus shows us another way. He openly proclaims that he is gentle saying:

“Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

His gentleness is apparent throughout the gospel in the loving service he offers to those around him. From the wedding at Cana to the post resurrection breakfast he cooks on the shore, his life is marked by a real desire to care for those around him. We see it when he refuses to turn the crowds away hungry even though his disciples tell him that the don’t have enough food. It’s apparent as he weeps over Jerusalem, and as he comforts his mother and beloved disciple from the cross.

This gentleness is very far from being weakness. It has a strength that can build and maintain communities and relationships even in the toughest of circumstances. Imitating the gentleness of Christ leads us to those daily acts of kindness that renew and sustain our neighbours and our communities. It calls us to a myriad of actions that, while they may seem small, can make people feel valued, cared for and safe.

How are you being called to learn gentleness today?

Categories
Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

Poor in Spirit

Photo by Maksym Tymchyk on unsplash.com

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

Like the rest of this sermon on the Mount the Beatitudes can suffer from overfamiliarity. They are some of the best-known and most quoted part of Scripture. This can shield us from the true impact of the message that turns all our reasoning on its head.

From the very first one, blessed are the poor in spirit, the Beatitudes call all our human values into question. In our hearts we recognise the poverty that this Beatitude speaks of. We know we are limited creatures, reliant on God for life and unable to meet our own needs, dependent on others physically, emotionally and spiritually. We spend a lot of our lives running away from this knowledge, covering it up, hiding it from ourselves and from others.

When Jesus says:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
He invites us to turn away from the very human drive to self-sufficiency, from that beguiling call to be in control and to have everything sorted. He tells us that the first step in building the kingdom is to acknowledge our poverty, admit our neediness and see honestly and openly that we can’t do everything.

He promises that when we have the humility to acknowledge our dependence on God then we have already inherited his kingdom. It seems to me that to be able to accept this gift of the kingdom we need to put down the great burden of self-sufficiency.

Where are you finding opportunities to admit your reliance on God today?

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Sermon on the Mount Uncategorized

God’s generous love.

Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay.com

The sermon on the Mount is central to the gospel. It lays out Jesus’ vision of the kingdom and it calls us to join him in making it a reality. Connecting it to the promise of heaven and eternal life we can see it as something for the future rather than the present. True and beautiful as this future vision is, by itself it is not enough.

In the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) Jesus is calling us to become people of the kingdom here and now. We are called to make the kingdom a reality in daily life. In the midst of the challenges and messiness of our times we are to base our interactions on the values of the sermon on the Mount. That’s a prospect that brims with hope and promise, yet it also presents many challenges. Maybe the first of those is to discern what we mean by “the kingdom”. Much has been written on this through the centuries. I’m particularly drawn to this description by the American Jesuit Father Andrew Greeley. In his book, “The Jesus myth”, he writes:

“The kingdom is the intervention in our lives of the insane generosity of God’s love.”

The first step in becoming people of the kingdom is to recognise this love in our lives and to allow it to shape and transform us.

How is the insane generosity of God’s love transforming you today?