1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
On December 8th, 2019, the Coronavirus began in China. The Coronavirus is a deadly virus that begins with flu-like symptoms. On January 9th, the first death was linked to the virus.
By January 28, the death toll hits over 100.
As of yesterday, more than 2000 new cases were recorded and the death toll has now passed 300, with more than 14,000 infections confirmed.
And, it’s not just in China anymore. Countries and territories have confirmed cases in Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, France, South Korea, Germany, Canada, Britain, Vietnam, Italy, India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cambodia, Finland, Sweden, Spain, and the United States.
Delta and other Airlines have suspended all flights to China. Thousands are quarantined and also while out in public, all are asked to wear masks.
The World Health Organization is working 24/7 to try and contain the virus.
- What if we too are now on lockdown?
- What if we are not allowed to leave our homes?
- What if all airlines suspended all flights?
- What if the only way that we could go to the grocery store was to wear masks – fearing that we too could potentially get the coronavirus?
Even as we sit here today, fear seeps into our hearts and minds of what could possibly happen…
Just before Jesus begins His Sermon on the Mount, the people had the same fears. In fact, Jesus had been going to each community – town-to-town, healing those with diseases – Leprosy, those with handicaps, and all kinds of ailments.
Many lived in fear because of the brutal government, tax Collectors skimming off the top for themselves, women and children lived on the margins of society, and there was no World Health Organization – if you got sick, you most likely died.
And, here is Jesus – proclaiming the Good News of Salvation. It could not be a better time to hear these words of Good News.
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
But, it’s the very first beatitude that makes it difficult for me to get pass.
Just as it is in the Ten Commandments – the first commandment is the most important and all other commandments fall back to the first one – Love God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and all your strength.
We often don’t get to pass GO because we are stuck on the very first Commandment.
This very first beatitude is the same way: Blessed are the poor in Spirit…
In other words, blessed are those who are spiritually inadequate. This Beatitude is the Blood for the living…It is the Holy paradox of the Gospel.
In his book, In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen is a priest, who in his discernment, asked God to give him direction for ministry. Shortly after, a woman came up to him and said, “Go and live among the poor in Spirit…”
This really struck me hard and as I have pondered what that really means, I realize that it’s you and me. Every single one of us here are “Poor in Spirit,” or else we would not get up on Sunday morning to come to this place!
And, it’s not just us who are inadequately spiritual – it’s everyone out there. Some recognize it and some do not –
It is those who feel their sin with hurt and penitence who are really righteous –
It is the dispirited who live before God, and it is the marvelously spiritual who often expire from God’s presence!
For those of us who are spiritually poor – the kingdom exists! It’s here- right now! It’s not something that we have to wait for!
And, in this kingdom that gives to us, there is a complete turnaround – we who here at the bottom – the bottom – as the world may see us, but not as God sees us – God will rise us up to the top on the last day!
And so, all of the beatitudes point back to this very first one:
Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!
Jesus continues to preach God’s blessings:
- Blessed are those who mourn: God blesses us in our sadness – not just the sadness we experience from losing a loved one – but the sadness we feel when we witness the rest of the world – when we recognize how far away the world is from God-
- Blessed are the meek are those who are unaggressive but are promised to inherit the earth.
God gives us everything – first to the dependent poor, then to the grief-stricken, and now to the unaggressive – Jesus picks up the pieces for us little people in a world!
These beatitudes then are not something that you and I are called to do – but are “Givens.”
These are not choices, but our way of life as Children of God. We are Jesus’ Special People.
These beatitudes are for you and me – the ones who are Poor in Spirit and live among The POOR IN SPIRIT,- These are promises from God!
The Coronavirus has now spread to the United States.
A nine-year old little boy and his mom and dad have been quarantined to their home. No one is allowed to leave their homes.
As they turn on the TV that morning, there is a news outbreak that possibly they can find the cure if they have the right blood match. All residents are asked to hurry down to their local hospital to give blood.
So, the nine-year old boy and his parents go to the hospital where they wait in a long line to give blood. They are told to wait to see if they are a match or not.
After sitting and waiting for a few hours, the doctors and nurses come running out screaming, “We have a match!”
They call out the name of the nine-year boy.
When the doctors and nurses realize that it is a nine-year old little boy that is the perfect match – their smiles turn into glum. As his parents, they ask, “How much blood do you need?”
Now being very serious and sad, the doctor tells the boy’s parents, “All of it.
It will take every single drop of his blood in order to save the hundreds of thousands of people from this virus.”
These parents were devasted. And, as they take the boy away, the little boy is asking his parents questions as to what is about to happen.
Fast forward to a couple of months later…The cure has been made. And, already, the people have forgotten about the nine- year old little boy that gave his life for the sake of theirs –
You can imagine the grief-stricken parents as they have lost their son for the sake of others who now, many people do not even acknowledge ever happening.
Imagine if it were your only son…
You see…those people who survived the virus would not have life without that nine-year old boy.
And so it is also, we would not have LIFE without Jesus Christ!
These Beatitudes that Jesus preaches to the people merit God’s Grace.
These Beatitudes that Jesus preaches to the people are the gifts that are given to his very special people that give us LIFE!
As we live among the POOR IN SPIRIT – in community with each other – we seek a right relationship with God –
And, we give it all we got to put God at the center of our lives –
We come to the table in hopes of a clean and pure heart –
And, the blessing is unimaginable – We will see God! Not that we hope to see Him, or we MIGHT see HIM – WE WILL SEE HIM!
We are children of God and we cannot help ourselves to be spiritually poor, meek, and mournful. It’s who we are as Christians and followers of Jesus Christ.
And, if Jesus Christ had given His blood for each one of us –
We know we do not have the capability to bring ourselves comfort us in our difficult days.
We cannot bring ourselves the Kingdom of Heaven…
We cannot give ourselves our own salvation.
Only God can give us a pure Heart – through His Body and Blood –
We cannot have hope of a place where we will be on top of the world without our Lord who first died for us.
It is only Jesus Christ who can give us grace-upon-grace and everlasting mercy because of the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.
It is only Jesus Christ who can give us the peace that passes all our understanding.
These beatitudes then point us to Christ – and the One who Saves us.
Jesus brings us to our knees in faith, and then puts us on our feet in LOVE.
It is then that we are able to have compassion and bring justice, because Jesus showed us how.
We are then able to have mercy on the homeless and less fortunate, because Jesus demonstrated that mercy.
We are then able to proclaim the Good News to those who are POOR in SPIRIT because Jesus leads us.
And, we are then able to love others because He has first loved us.