The greatest story ever told is not about a baby born in a manager in some forgettable little town in ancient Judea. Although, that particular story is part of the greatest story every told. No, the greatest story ever told is about the descendants of a sheep herder.
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 draws near to us when others push away, and the very tools we use to keep people back are the instruments that Jesus uses to see and call to our inner self. And like Nathanael all we are able to say is, “How do you know me … Rabbi, surely you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
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.”