Sunday, March 16, 2014
Monday March 17, 2014 Matthew 5:10
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -- Matthew 5:10
Like Kim said earlier in these reflections, I picture Jesus sitting, with his followers gathered around him, as he shares this wisdom. I try to discover what the words meant to the original listener, and what they mean today. Jesus is talking to people who know what it means to be persecuted. They are living in tough times, maybe in fear of their very lives, when they follow this man Jesus, and are thirsting for hope, reassurance and comfort. A few decades later, at the time the gospels were written down and Jesus’ words recorded, these verses might have been even more meaningful to those who heard them.
Which makes me search for the relevance to my life today: hungering and thirsting for God paints a clear picture; to be “meek”, humble and patient, striving to show mercy – to have empathy and compassion – are concrete goals; would it be we all have a pure heart.
But I am not persecuted. I live in a free society. I don’t have to have to worry about losing my job, or my home, or my freedom, or my life. I worship where and whom I please. What does persecution have to do with me? Well, perhaps “persecution” lurks out there even in my safe environment, in the dreaded “what will others say?”
Being part of the kingdom of heaven depends on never measuring actions by society’s values, never hesitating to do the right thing because it might be awkward, or open you to embarrassment or ridicule. It depends on putting God first, not thinking of the consequences or what other people might think. --Marilyn McCarter