When Jesus had come down from the hill with the apostles, he stood on a level place with a large number of his disciples. A large crowd of people was there from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from the coast cities of Tyre and Sidon; they had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those who were troubled by evil spirits also came and were healed. All the people tried to touch him, for power was going out from him and healing them all.
Jesus looked at his disciples and said,
“Happy are you poor;
the Kingdom of God is yours!
“Happy are you who are hungry now;
you will be filled!
“Happy are you who weep now;
you will laugh!
“Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and say that you are evil, all because of the Son of Man! Be glad when that happens and dance for joy, because a great reward is kept for you in heaven. For their ancestors did the very same things to the prophets.
“But how terrible for you who are rich now;
you have had your easy life!
“How terrible for you who are full now;
you will go hungry!
“How terrible for you who laugh now;
you will mourn and weep!
“How terrible when all people speak well of you; their ancestors said the very same things about the false prophets.
Jesus’ teachings are about the here and now. The reign of God is being revealed and lived out now, wherever we are. Our faith is not about something esoteric or futuristic. It is about peace, justice and equity now. It calls for an unsettling, practical reversal of societal values, to create a place of generous hospitality, compassionate grace and whole-hearted inclusion of all our neighbours. What’s not to like?
Jesus is on a level space where anyone could reach out to him – metaphorically and physically. Everyone is included in this multicultural, diverse mob. He acknowledges financial disparity, and so, inequitable life circumstances that pervade every century, society and culture. In God’s realm, there is absolute unity – all are valued and loved. We have responsibility to live in unity with all whom we meet. Wealth of enough, and enabling enough. Wellbeing through giving generously, and humbly receiving. Happiness of being loved, and loving others. Being held in compassion, and being compassionate. God’s realm is a reality of truth-filled faithfulness. Living in the Way of Jesus radiates peaceful inclusion and living justice from the centre of your soul. In the midst of society, otherness shines through.
Jesus acknowledges it is not always easy to follow his Way, as his bitter sweet reflections in verses 22-23,
“Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and say that you are evil, all because of the Son of Man!… For their ancestors did the very same things to the prophets.
When it’s tough going, remember Jeremiah 17:7-8
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
My soul struggles at times in my faith-filled life.
Yet, you bring clarity and assurance.
In the desert wanderings of my soul,
heat shimmers create illusions that distract me.
I need your Way to see what lies ahead.
Like thirsty roots reaching wide and deep for life-giving water,
I long for your refreshment.
Over the raucous calls of the chaotic Corellas,
I hear you whisper in my inner life.
The endless blue sky speaks of your continuum,
while the ceaseless ocean waves
carry me over seismic turbulence beneath.
Stillness comes as I sit on earth;
Your steadfastness is as a rock.
The wind blows me forward
and the tumbleweeds of doubt do not block my way.
Your realm is continually revealed
and for this, I give thanks.
My soul wrestles in my faith filled life,
and you bring clarity and assurance.