And, looking up at his disciples, he said: “Happy are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and slander you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day and rejoice, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their fathers did with the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, because you will be hungry. “Woe to you for laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all people will speak well of you, because that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)
We know from experience that no one can escape all the inevitable trials of life – pain, suffering, sickness and death. When Jesus began to teach his disciples, he gave them the “way of happiness” that transcends any difficulties and problems that can weigh us down with sorrow and despair.
Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with the question of where true happiness can be found. The word bliss literally means happiness or blessing. However, Jesus’ way of happiness requires an inner change – a conversion of heart and mind, which can only happen through the gift and action of the Holy Spirit.
His teaching on the Beatitudes is so central to our beliefs that figures as diverse as Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, and Dietrich Bahnhofer all understood Jesus’ Beatitudes as the central core of His teaching and the most important part of His message.
So what do the Beatitudes tell us. They tell us how God sees the world.
God considers those who are poor blessed. God values those who mourn, those who are lonely, those who are persecuted. The Beatitudes show that God is devoted to those in need and to those who suffer. It is because God is present with them that they are blessed. The Beatitudes do not say that being poor, sorrowful, or persecuted is a blessed or wonderful thing.
They really claim that whenever any of these afflictions happen to us, God is coming to us. God draws us because God knows our needs. Because God is present in these difficult circumstances, those who suffer are blessed.
So this is the God the Beatitudes reveal to us: the God who exalts the humble, who cares for the poor, who stands with the downtrodden. It is this vision of who God is that is at the heart of Jesus’ ministry and the heart of Jesus’ teaching. There are two clear and immediate consequences that flow from this God of Beatitudes, two things that those who follow Christ must embrace: hope and solidarity.
To be disciples of Jesus, we must be people of hope. Because we know that when we are poor, when we are sad, when we feel rejected, worthless or in need, God comes to us.
We believe in a God who comes to us in our difficulties, a God who is with us and leads us to a place of wholeness and joy. Those who follow Jesus must be people of hope because God cares for us in our need.
We must also be people of solidarity, solidarity with the poor and oppressed. If God is close to those who struggle, if God is close to those who are persecuted or in need, we should act in the same way toward them. We cannot worship God and ignore those whom God cares for. As followers of Jesus, we must be people committed to eliminating poverty, injustice, and oppression, because that is what our God also seeks to eliminate.
Since our God is devoted to them, do we even need to ask the question, “why should we?”
Prayer of the day
“Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for You and show me the way that leads to eternal happiness and peace. That I may desire You more than anything else and find perfect joy in doing Your will.”
How can you find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning and persecution? If we want to be filled with the joy and happiness of heaven, we must free ourselves from all that shuts out God in our hearts. Poverty of spirit finds wide scope and joy in the possession of God alone as the greatest treasure. The hungry spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Grief and mourning for lost life and sin leads to joyful release from the burden of guilt and oppression.
I have been serving for 43 years. Every day is a day of bliss when I discover a new meaning of God’s word. I am sharing them with you and hope you find them useful. I am nothing more than a servant of His word.
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