This is the Lord we serve who calls us blessed, for even in the face of death we are safe in His arms and nothing can separate us from His love. This world is not our home and Christ has overcome it, therefore we can have peace even in the most hostile of circumstances and hope in the greatest persecution.
In the Anglican tradition and others that are like it, there is in fact a specific portion in the service dedicated to “passing the peace.” While some may view this as an opportunity to shake someone’s hand with a smile and a greeting, the more ancient tradition reveals a time where Christian brothers and sisters are encouraged to confirm with one another that there is peace within the body and that all can approach the communion table in clear conscience.
Jesus eliminated the Old Testament allowances for private revenge by redeeming the land of Israel and the sins of the whole world through the shedding of his blood. He replaced the principle of blood vengeance with forgiveness, as seen in the verses from Matthew. The New Testament is clear that private revenge is morally wrong.
Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior…
Only in the Kingdom might we find ourselves immersed in the kind of economy wherein mercy is the gold standard. Show me a merciless individual and I will show you the man who hates himself.
Aristocrat and commoner, child and grown-up, we all know hunger. It would have been easy enough to have just said "desire," "long," or "yearn," but there's a very distinct feeling that hunger opens up in us - a craving, a rumble, a primeval urge to satisfy our most elemental need.
The Kingdom that Jesus comes to bring is one that is a reversal of the structures of the age, antithetical to the economy of Rome. This kingdom is open to all, those who find themselves without power, prestige, protection and position—those who cannot do for themselves, these are who are blessed, and these have a heritage.
As we awaken to the state of things, as we are sensitized, we are receiving the heart of a compassionate Father whose heart was on vivid front-row display those three years.
I want us to remember that the Beatitudes, including poverty of spirit, are not some special sort of Christian ethic or a list of rules that we must keep in order to “go to heaven.” Instead, they are supernatural attributes that flow from the people of God because they are being transformed by the grace of God.
So he sits down, in the posture of an authoritative rabbi, and opens his mouth to teach them. And what he says next is the primary subject of this article: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”