Blessed Are Those Who Struggle

By Deacon Greg

Micah 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 5:1-12; Psalm 15

    I must confess I find the word “blessed” as used in today’s reading of the Beatitudes to be challenging. After all, do you feel “blessed” when you’re mourning the loss of a loved one? Are you counting your “blessings” when you’re being persecuted or mistreated for living you faith?

   In fact, when you review this list of Beatitudes they seem to describe how this world really “isn’t”.

·       Do the meek, in this day and age of ruthless capitalism, inherit anything?

·       Are the peacemakers celebrated anywhere, except maybe with a Nobel Prize?

·       Where is mercy when our news media thrives on blame?

   If these ramblings aren’t puzzling enough, exactly who are these “poor in spirit”? For years, I stumbled around wondering about the “poor in spirit”.

·       If you don’t have money, does that make you lacking in spirit?

·       If you don’t pray enough does your spirit run out?

·       If you pray too much does that make you rich in spirit?

   As a numbers kind of guy, and as a former Roman Catholic who was supposed to be counting up one’s sins, I was stuck in this idea of finding a numerical solution to this “spirit” question.

   I finally found the answer in a book I read recently, “The Beatitudes through the Ages” [Eklund & Allison Jr.].

   Have you ever in your life struggled with your faith?

·       Have there been times when you have doubts about God’s interest in your life?

·       Can you think of times that you found it easy to be untroubled about faith and that God was sitting right next to you,

·       and other times it seemed that God was a distant concept?

   I know I have, and I’m guessing many of you have struggled the same way.

   If you’ve struggled with your faith, then I have Good News for you today: You are the poor in spirit! Yours is the Kingdom of Heaven!

   “How can this be, Deacon?” you might say, or “What the heck are you talking about, Deacon?”, yet I tell you, “Yours is the kingdom of heaven!”

   The “poor in spirit” are people who regularly struggle with their faith. We are people with questions on our mind, and as soon as we find the answer to one question, we find even more questions to think about! Yet it is this struggle within each of us that God finds endearing.

·       We haven’t settled on a doctrine, and then memorize words until they are rote!

·       We aren’t recording machines that play back whatever is recorded from someone else!

   We are humans who are seeking God, and seeking the Truth, and we leave our minds open not because we are failing as Christians, but because our hearts, minds, and spirits are yearning for God, searching for the Truth, on a daily basis.

   In essence, we are poor in spirit, but rich in perseverance. Isn’t that what our parish life has been like recently here at St. Paul’s?

   God dearly loves all of us who struggle because we have not given up on seeking the path to the Kingdom. Blessed are all of us, for the kingdom of heaven is ours!

   In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he isn’t telling us what heaven is like, (although it IS what heaven is like), but instead he’s inviting his followers to a new way of living in this world that will bring God’s Kingdom into this broken existence.

·       Blessed are the poor in spirit—We should struggle in our faith!

·       Blessed are those who mourn—We should give comfort to those who are mourning!

·       Blessed are the meek—We should live without arrogance or disdain for others.

·       Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and those who are merciful—We should be working in this world to bring mercy and justice for all of those outcast!

·       Blessed are the pure in heart—We should be striving in our prayer and worship life to open ourselves to faith, hope, and love, and not greed, power, and hate.

·       Blessed are the peacemakers—We should strive to bring peace to the world, and support those who work for peace.

·       Blessed are those who are persecuted and reviled for following the path of Jesus—We should take heart in knowing we are God’s beloved when people hate us for loving everyone.

   You are God’s beloved when people hate you on the basis of who you love, or the color of your skin, or the gender of your true self.

   The Beatitudes are more than just a promise of what will happen “some day”. The Beatitudes are a guidebook for living our spirit-filled life in this world, and the God’s Dream of how this world is meant to be.

   The prophet Micah, in this morning’s reading, tells us about the Dream of God:

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God.”

   Blessed is this parish that perseveres in following Jesus in the way of love.

   Blessed are each one of us who keep struggling along the path of faith.

   “Rejoice and be glad, for our reward is great in heaven…”


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