For Sunday, January 29, 2017 – Matthew 5:1-12
A friend of mine says this gospel passage is simply how Jesus defines sanity, how to keep our heads on straight when the world makes our minds spin. The culture that holds sway over us says we should want to “make it big.” We should want to be and do “what really matters,” which is to accumulate more power, more influence, more attribution. Jesus, on the other hand, says we will have more fun being poor, with no power in our pockets.
The world says, try to avoid anything that brings pain or, God forbid, might even make us weep, but Jesus says if we never weep, how will we learn what it is to be comforted? If we never mourn, how will we recognize the blessing of joy? It’s not when we are already filled up with the gluttony of right answers, satiated by promises of good times to come, but when we are hungry and thirsting for justice and unsure that we will ever be filled that we can honestly search for mercy, beg for a pure heart, and count on receiving them. It is not the peace so much as the longing for peace, the long agony of finding ourselves empty, that draws us closer to the One who has all we need.
Life is not difficult now so that we will more greatly appreciate being rewarded someday in heaven. Life is difficult now simply because it is difficult now. And the reward is to see it, to feel it, to let it in. When we refuse to accept that life is not to be continually altered, continually tweaked for our pleasure, we miss a simple truth: Life is what it is, and what it is, is Life. A mixed up muddle of sorrow and peace and joy and poverty and longing. We miss it if we spend all our time trying to shut the doors, bar the windows, before Life can get to us, before God can show us how good the awful parts can be. When we let the difficulties be what they are, then we can be who we are—cherished and able to live through whatever comes.
We are not in control of life, the difficulties or the blessings. But we can learn to expect them and to receive them as guests, as guides, as friends who come to show us the blessing path.