Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
As I said last month, the beatitudes are not a recipe for how to be a good Christian. The Beautitudes, which were a part of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, express the yearnings that Jesus saw in the gathered folks. Now I’ve totally been in situations where people have spoken or preached without any notion of who their audience was…..and I believe that when Jesus looked out across those who were following him and awaiting his teachings…he realized that the folks he was speaking to were suffering, were living in grief, in systems of in-equity and injustice. Rather than preaching and teaching, Jesus said: “I see you. I see you who hunger for righteousness, who are wanting to be in right relationship with self, others and God. Know that you are all blanketed in God’s Mercy, Forgiveness and Love.” He said “I see you. I see all of you who are merciful, who move in kindness towards others, who help those around you in need even though you are in need yourself. Just hold on, your time will come.” He said “I see you. I see your heart and your innate goodness and through your innate goodness you can connect to the Divine within and all around you.”
Being hopeless or depressed (poor of spirit), in grief, living with unjust systems, or in a compassion desert, this is not what God intends for our lives. Certainly, these are not punishments handed down by God. God didn’t do this to you, and certainly God didn’t do this to you because of something that you did…There’s no quid pro quo in heaven. Please know that God is not blessing some and throwing lightening bolts at others. God, (or whatever word you use for the Divine) is Love. The injustice and the broken systems that cause so much suffering are human not Divine.
These beautiful folks that come out for worship and youth street reach come not only for a good word, and to gather clothing and toiletries and food; they come here because here they are met with compassion, and can spend time with folks who look through a lens of love and see the goodness and the heart of all the folks who attend. On Sunday my husband was offered food, clothing, long-johns and underwear; so many people reached out to him. What a beautiful thing that all were treated equally, that this gathering isn’t “for the homeless,” but instead is for all people, for all God’s beloved. This isn’t about giving to the “unfortunate” but instead is about being together, equal in the eyes of God.
There is more to do, however. We need to reduce stigma around homelessness and to increase compassion for people who are marginalized. We need to offer services that meet people where they are and then walk with them on their healing journey. We need systems that work with instead of against those who are struggling. We need affordable housing. We need to stop “othering” and recognize that we are one community, all equally loved by a Divine Creator, all recipients of God’s blessings.
Once you have eyes to see, then it’s time to do the work of compassionately taking action that lifts up and brings healing to all of God’s beloved.