Jesus looked up and said to his disciples, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.”
“Blessed,” has become a very ‘churchy’ word with little meaning for most people. “Happy” is another common translation, but that word has grown too small in contemporary usage, I fear. Think of “Blessed” as “unburdened” or “satisfied.”
Jesus also addresses people who are the opposite of the first groups: the wealthy, the satiated, the laughing, and the acclaimed. To all of these he cries out, “Woe!”
In this context, “woe” functions as a sharp contrast to “blessed,” yet the Greek does not mean “cursed” or “unhappy.” Certainly not “damned.” Like the English word yikes, it is more of an attention-getter and emotion-setter than a clear characterization or pronouncement.
Jesus therefore promises relief to some groups, to those people who travel rough roads through life. To others, to folks who find existence rather enjoyable or easy, he cries, “Look out!”
For many, Luke’s Sermon on the Plain,” is disturbing, some find it liberating. One thing is for sure, our feelings don’t really matter much in our understanding of the text. Jesus is the one who preached it, and a disciple is to react to it, in kind. Somehow our values have drifted away from the values of following or “satisfying” Jesus’ commands, to more of an obsession with only satisfying our feelings, obsessions, or desires.
When it comes to “values,” who or where do we turn to in order to find a foundational meaning to our values. Maybe it is time to re-think our values and our role in following them.
*This weekend's service was held at Interfaith Community Services in Escondido. Click here to see pictures from Incarnation's Day of Service.