Jesus speaks to our Anxiety

Matthew 5:1-12
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Jesus

Jesus begins his teaching ministry, not by telling people what to do, but how to be. He says blessed are the meek, the poor, those that mourn, etc. (Matthew 5:1-12) Each of these are places to be. Many of the peasants listening to him that day had already arrived at poverty, humility, and sadness in their lives. They were already crying out for earthly justice. They longed for heaven because the systems of this world had taken everything from them. Where exactly were they? Wilderness. What do they feel? Anxiety.

Now take a moment and picture yourself to that grassy hillside. The weather is warm but pleasant. There is a fresh breeze blowing off of the lake below. You see families with children. The hill is broad so that everyone can be socially distanced and relaxed. It’s been a while since you have felt this calm. Following the example of others, you spread a blanket, take off your mask, wave to the elderly couple beside you. The teacher arrives and takes his place at the top of the rise where he can be seen and heard by all. This is why you have come. You are anxious about the mess that life has become for you. You want it to be better. 

Jesus begins:

You are blessed. Yes you who feel poor in spirit and anxious.

Look, the kingdom of heaven is already yours.

(Pause. Breathe. Is Jesus addressing you?)

You are blessed. Even if you are grieving a deep loss. Blessed is your mourning. 

It is not in vain. You will be comforted.

(Breathe. A deep breath in. Let it out slowly.)

You are blessed even when you feel humiliated. Blessed is the way you yield and accept what you cannot change. One day, the meek will inherit the earth.

(Acceptance is a spiritual state of being. Do not give up your self-worth. No one can tell you that you are small. The place you sit on this hillside is equal to the place your neighbor sits in. Humility is the order of the day. For once, we get to enjoy it.)

I am not blessing you for your accomplishments. You are already blessed for being on the path. Blessed are all those who hunger and thirst to become better people. Your heart will be filled with goodness.

(Can you accept this?)

You are blessed as you show forgiveness. Those with a merciful attitude will receive mercy.

(Pray: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”)

You will be blessed by the what is in your heart. Quieting your thoughts. Opening your heart to what is good. This is how God is glimpsed.

(Becoming a better person is a process of spiritual formation.)

You are blessed as you bring peace into conflicted relationships. Be a bridge, not a wall. Others will see this and call you a child of God.

(Are you a peacemaker? In your family? At your workplace? As you interact with others online? Invite others into the peace you have with God.)

And blessed are you when it all goes wrong. When others mock you. When they imprison you. When you lose your job or have someone break their relationship with you. The kingdom of heaven is not compromised by these momentary afflictions. Your pain is not a punishment. It is simply another step on your path. 

(Rejoice. Jesus is at hand. This too shall pass, but God’s love will never end.

Pentecost 23