This year my high school class is celebrating our reunion virtually. In fact we are celebrating it for several months. One of the ways, is that some of us have been asked to write meditations from time to time. I decided to write on following the teachings of Jesus. The theme of all of my blogs is ways or paths to experiencing the presence of God. One way is to follow the teachings of Jesus. So I will be sharing these on my blog in the months to come.
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Luke and Matthew affirm that Jesus taught this to his disciples. Matthew’s version simply amplifies the plight of the poor, i.e. they are dis-spirited, crushed, without hope.
If we are to take this saying of Jesus seriously, what must we do? Jesus could say that the poor were blessed, because he knew that his followers would care for them as much as they could. We are called to a practical compassion for the poor. We are called to individual actions of charity, but also to support programs the seek to alleviate the suffering of the poor.
This becomes clear in Matthew 25 where the peoples of the world are judged, not on what they believed, but on what they did. The sheep—those on the right of the Son of Man—cared for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, and the imprisoned. Because they acted this way, Jesus said they were blessed by the Father. The goats, on his left, did no such thing and they were cursed.
I honestly don’t claim to know what this all might mean in terms of eternity, but this I know: people following the teachings of Jesus will be more interested in blessing the poor than in shaming or blaming them. We are called to compassion.
2 thoughts on “Following Jesus Christ I”
Reading Howard Thurman’s “Jesus and the Disinherited” changed how I see these verses. I agree, LaMon, that we are called to help the poor. At the same time, Thurman helped me see that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor regardless of outside help. The Kingdom is theirs by divine gift, granting dignity in all circumstances.
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Yes, I think that is a good interpretation. It affirms that God loves they people on the edges, the one’s often ignored. I don’t have any real argument against it except many poor might wonder what difference it makes in their lives–if they remain poor and hopeless. But I certainly can’t say that Thurman’s interpretation, which is echoed by many others, is wrong. Thanks for reading and commenting.
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