Today's Lectionary Text
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
How do I live today? Each day? Do I know how I need to be? When did I learn that?
Yes, I can do things like brush my teeth, take a shower, prepare our meals, make the bed. Somehow, I learned those things as I grew up. Then, I passed those skills on to my children.
But, how do I treat others? What’s my attitude? What do I consider important? Where does my heart need to be?
The answer to these latter questions is highlighted in Micah and in Matthew, today’s readings. Matthew notes the blessing, or happiness, that comes with showing mercy or, in words used by Micah, in being kind. How hard is that? We can be kind by smiling at someone on the street, or by asking about and then listening to another person’s account of his or her day. However, it does not seem like the world today values such behavior. Aah -- but God does.
What about spreading peace or doing justice? Once again, it seems like the world does not value justice; it does not care if peace even exists, let alone abounds, especially not if justice or peace requires one to put something other than “me” first.
Justice and peace are big words, huge concepts. These are not something one can just bring about, even if one desires to do so. Yet one can take steps along the path to peace. Guarding our words, our tone, our manner takes just a little extra effort. If we are careful in these parts of our own living, we can create an atmosphere of peace and thus move the world just a bit further down the road toward peace. If we take advantage of opportunities to speak up for those whose voice is rarely heard, and as we defend efforts to fill everyday needs -- for food, for shelter, for medical care -- and as we make those efforts over and over and over, we will help clear a path toward bringing justice to a world that is not especially fair or in which what is truly righteous rarely prevails. It can happen, with even one small step that fits into our daily “to dos”.
What helps as one attempts to treat others with kindness and caring every day? Or, what facilitates being clued in to and acting upon opportunities to create a world where peace prevails and righteousness reigns? Many days I’d rather just make my bed, cross vacuuming off the “to do” list, and then do what’s fun and feels good for me. But as I move through the first hour or so of my day, with quiet all around (that’s what works for me) God’s presence permeates my consciousness. Yes, I do ask to become aware of just how very present God is around me and in my heart. I have to be willing to adopt a humility and acknowledge my poverty of spirit. Each of us must find the willingness to start, to take the next step on the journey.
Let’s each open our eyes and ears and hearts this day. We might stumble upon opportunities to be kind -- maybe take a jar of peanut butter to a food pantry or sit and visit with a scruffy-looking bus rider. We could quiet our individual souls with softly-playing hymns or with rap music that create a cacophony of sound. Let’s each do what works for us and brings us more deeply in touch with our God. Perhaps we can each walk with God throughout this day.
Prayer for Reflection
Empower me to put myself after, to act for justice, to love with kind deeds, and to walk humbly with You, Holy One. Amen.
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