“Rejoice and be glad”

Most people know Jesus’ “Beatitudes,” which are presented today in Matthew 5:1-12.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

What I love about this reading is that it is here that Jesus lays out his priorities. He blesses the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and those who are insulted and persecuted and for whom every kind of evil is falsely uttered against because of Jesus. Note He didn’t bless the self-righteous, the arrogant, the pompous, the wealthy, the aggressive, the staunch, the overbearing, the hypocrite, the loud, the pushy, the warmonger, the judgmental. No, He blessed the humble, the contrite, the lowly — those whom He served everyday in His ministry.

Now, you might respond, didn’t Jesus say His priority was to love God and love your neighbor — those were His most important commandments? I would answer that these priorities are very much a testament to those commandments. They show His love for the Father and the children of God, Jesus’ very neighbors.

When you hear someone preach intolerance or hate or impatience of this list of people, just remember Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes. Intolerance or hate or impatience is not What Jesus Would Do. A true Christian embraces these many people in the love of God. And if you are among this celebrated group, as Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your  reward will be great in heaven.”

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