Jesus said, “Blessed are you…” (Luke 6:20)
This weekend we come upon the other set of “beatitudes.” We have spent a large amount of time covering the set in Matthew, which takes us through the ladder that is our walk of faith. But this weekend we will tackle the set that is presented by Jesus in the gospel of Luke.
These are not like the others. While Matthew offers hope to all who hear Jesus’ message, Luke offers deep and fearful warnings. The blessed in this passage are the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and those who are hated because they stand up for God’s purposes. Then Jesus keeps going: but woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what they did to the false prophets.
If you, like me, are generally among the comfortable in this world – yikes.
Luke’s Jesus is very pointed in his assessment of how the world works. Far too often, the poor and hungry exist because others have more than enough and the mourning are just plain ignored. In fact, that is still the world we live in. Even more interesting, Jesus calls out fake piety for what it is – merely a show to gain favor.
So what do we do with this startling passage?
Realize that Jesus is critiquing the status quo – our status quo. We are being called out for the realities that we have inherited, allowed, and perpetuated. It is not enough to say Jesus is Lord when it does not effect anything about how we live our lives.
To put it another way, consider the recent reflection of Evangelist Beth Moore, “When the gospel has become bad news to the poor, to the oppressed, to the broken-hearted and imprisoned, and good news to the proud, self-righteous and privileged instead, it is no longer the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God does still act to change the world – through us. Christ calls us to start grappling with hard truths and stop feigning ignorance. And the Spirit empowers us to stand with all those who Jesus himself sought out in his life: the poor, the hungry, the mourning, the lost, the unwanted, and the forgotten.
May God give us the courage we need to answer Christ’s call.