“Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . blessed are those who mourn . . . blessed are the meek . . . blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . blessed are the merciful . . . blessed are the pure in heart . . . blessed are the peacemakers . . . blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake . . . blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5:3-11 (NRSV)
Given this list, most of us would say we may not WANT to be blessed for all these reasons, but then, we always look at things from our own perspective and in our own cultural setting. Is Jesus really saying that the only way to be blessed is to suffer? I don’t think so.
It seems to me that he is teaching his disciples and the crowd who is listening in the background that God’s blessing is for everyone. I mean, if God is there to bless those who are going through these really difficult situations, then surely God is also there for the ones who are not experiencing such things.
But let’s face it, we ALL experience challenges and difficulties! God is aware of the people who are marginalized and rejected by family, friends, and society, and God is there with them, unlike many folks who try to stay away from them and ignore them. So if God is blessing them, maybe God is also blessing those who aren’t in that situation.
And, maybe that blessing actually is given so that others might, in turn, become a blessing to those in difficult times. Whatever the case may be, there is a clear instruction here in this section of the Sermon on the Mount (often called the Beatitudes). Jesus’ disciples (including us) are called out of complacency, ignorance, and going along with society to bless those who are outcasts or challenged or rejected or marginalized.
I have often heard and used the sentence, “You are blessed to be a blessing” with congregations. The interesting thing is that people will hear it and think of the materialistic part of their lives as blessings. But Jesus isn’t talking about our possessions or our jobs or how many children we have or how well we have climbed the so-called ladder of success.
Jesus is talking about relationships. God is in relationship with us, offering us unconditional love and acceptance, and God asks us to do the same with others. These teachings lead us to righteous living which means living in right relationship with God and those around us as well as those in the world where we can make a difference.
So, how are you blessed to be a blessing?
In what ways will you reach out to the ones who are marginalized?
How will you live your faith so others can see Christ at work through you?