Sunday 30 January 2011

Bible Book:

"When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ... Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.'" (vv. 1-3,7)

Matthew 5:1-12 Sunday 30 January 2011


From the window of a popular restaurant it is possible to lookout at a wonderful view of Windsor Castle close by, and, in theforeground, to observe a number of men and women sleeping rough insleeping bags in a bus stop. Which is easier on the eye? To whichis our eye drawn? Today, Homelessness Sunday, we are invited to noticewhat sometimes we may prefer to ignore, the plight of those who,for whatever reason, no longer have a 'fixed abode'.

In these verses from Matthew, we are taken to a hillside in Galileeabout 2000 years ago as Jesus teaches the disciples in words whichused to be painted on the walls of many churches, words which manyof us had to learn for Scripture exams in days gone by, words whichare often known as "the Beatitudes", the beginning of the Sermon onthe Mount. 

They are both beautiful and challenging words, reminding us thatJesus would have been as interested in the occupants of thesleeping bags in Windsor as in the occupants of the castle behind.They are words which turn all that we thought we knew on its head:it is not the wise and well-educated who will receive the kingdomof heaven, but the poor in spirit; it is not the powerful who willinherit the earth, but the meek, it is not the articulate debaterswho will see God, but the pure in heart. Equally surprisingly, itis a blessing to mourn, for that will lead to comfort; a blessingto want more of God, for that will lead to satisfaction; even ablessing to be persecuted and reviled, for that will bring greatreward in the kingdom of heaven itself! And those who want to bechildren of God must learn to be peacemakers, and those who need toreceive mercy must first learn to show mercy. 

Showing mercy to the homeless might involve opening up our ownhomes, as in some local schemes; it might mean supporting local,national and international homeless charities; it must almostcertainly mean learning a mindset which doesn't judge, but whichdoesn't pity either - a mindset which recognises the value to Godof all humanity and which is open to receive the teaching of Jesus,however uncomfortable. 

To Ponder

How do you respond to homeless people when youmeet them face to face? What can you do to help?

If the Beatitudes provide a checklist forfaithful discipleship, how do you measure up?

Read theBeatitudes again. Ask God how you can move closer to liveaccording to them.

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