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Luke 6:20-31

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

Reading this with a woman in poor health offered insight into the meaning of blessedness. When asked, “What did you hear?” She replied with confidence, “Blessed are you means you know God is right there with you.” She continued, “No matter what is going on you know God is right there with you.” The day before this woman signed Advanced Directives. She gave specific instructions for her care in the event of further decline causing her to be unable to speak for herself. Now she wears a fuchsia-colored band on her wrist stating DNR (DO NOT RESUSITATE). The revised code status prevents heroic attempts to revive her. She expects family to respect her decision. Medical care continues to bring her comfort, but no excessive measures to revive her will occur. The faith she spoke showed through action that demonstrated trust in herself and in God with her.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Reading on with another palliative care patient brought more wisdom. A man with a weakening heart condition said with a soft smile, “God gives you what you need.” He went on to expound, “God knows what we need. Sometimes we think WE know, but God knows better.” As his words entered the room peace came along with them.

Visiting with an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) patient stirred contemplation and this writer’s longing. It is a lot to listen to a man tell of a recent and unexpected spider bite that left him without his legs. The amputation was necessary to save his life. There is little to say in such a moment. As a woman rich in health, I am left wondering. If I am honest, I am reeling. Exposure to suffering on the front line creates room for needing the truth Luke shares to come alive.

But I say to you that listen,

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This gospel passage is set in a scene of healing ministry. Jesus has drawn a multitude of people to him. They came to hear him and to receive healing. Out of a place of desperation they came for transformation. On the heels of a time away in prayer Jesus meets the people along with his disciples. He acts and he speaks. People acclaimed his efforts. What Jesus offers challenged the known religious practices. Jesus presents himself to people deemed unacceptable by the religious people. He rejects the practices of the Pharisees and Scribes by presenting a renewed view of the world. While curative actions take place, he speaks of a new way of living. Signs of reversal are underway as a new day is being fulfilled through the life-giving service of Jesus.

The beatitudes in Luke 6 ascribe or define the way things are in the world according to Jesus’ vision. What he shared includes both present and future realities. These realities point to the redemptive aim of God. A commentary tells, “Jesus is calling for a paradigm shift of colossal proportions.”[1] His words of blessing and woe intend to bring a change in perspective. They are words of comfort and hope. In the new world Jesus proclaims the unacceptable people become those embraced. Restoration comes by embodying a new way of being. The old way pushes the poor out to the margins of society while the rich hold societal position. They surround themselves with useful friends and resources. Jesus challenges and overturns the old way. He reverses the trend by asserting that the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor. Jesus reworks social assumptions and values that shape day to day life.

Such a shift comes with challenges. Like Jesus, those who orient life around his worldview must expect opposition. Those recognizing the authority of Jesus join the redemptive purpose of God. They will meet rejection. Such experience identifies someone with God’s purpose. This opposition, Green suggests, is a time of joy.[2]

Today I will continue to be on the lookout for our reason to rejoice. Look with me? Please, tell me what you see.


[1] Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI. 1997), 266.

[2] Ibid, 268.