Pastoral Message – January 29, 2013

Pastoral Message – January 29, 2013

In our Gospel today, we’re reminded of a very familiar pericope (fyi., a pericope is a literary/rhetorical term that means a passage, often from the Bible, that forms a unit of thought).

If you’ve been hanging around Church for a while, we’ve all heard preachers eloquently waxing on about this pericope, Matthew 5:1-12. Preachers focus on being “poor of spirit,” being meek, hungering for righteousness, etc. – really those virtuous qualities Christians should embrace.

Other times, usually at funerals, a preacher would cite Matthew 5, focusing on the rewards of virtuous lives – “the Kingdom of Heaven,” comfort, inheriting the Promised Land, justice, mercy, seeing God, etc. These are certainly the consequences of embracing virtue and the hope of Christians.

Both of these homiletic views are valid enough. I’ve preached in similar veins for years, myself. Recently though, I’ve been thinking about this pericope and seeing it differently. Jesus starts his preaching on that mountainside talking about blessedness. He repeats the word “blessed” 9 times – that is 3 squared, a trinity of trinities. In each of those “blessed” phrases, I really think he’s saying something about Himself. Jesus is poor in Spirit. Jesus is the “Man of sorrows” who mourns. Jesus is meek. He’s hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Jesus is merciful, clean of heart, and a peacemaker. And on the Cross, Jesus is the one who is persecuted and killed for the sake of righteousness. Jesus is revealing Himself and some of His qualities to us through this pericope.

Think just how appropriate it is that these verses from Matthew 5 are unified and famous, being titled the “Beatitudes.” “Beatitude” is defined as “the ultimate in blessedness.” Well, that pretty much summarizes who Jesus is. Jesus, the Son of God, is the personification of blessedness. Jesus is the beatitude.
In Jesus’ own preaching, and in the literally millions of sermons which have been preached on this pericope in the last couple of millennia, (if we call ourselves Christians), we are given our own motivation for virtue, our own sense of morality, our own sense of reward. Living our lives as a blessing is a life in Christ Jesus. Emulating Christ Jesus, we apply His preaching so we can actively live to fulfill the mission of Christ Jesus. So then in following Jesus, we also need to personify blessedness, goodness, righteousness, mercy, peace while yearning for the beatitude that is communion with our God.

Mission Trip News: Encouraging us to be a blessing to the world we’ve had groups engage in some missional trips. Our groups have gone to Mexico for the last couple of years. We’re planning to go to Mexico again this June. Some of the folks who participated in the last mission trip returned so pumped up that they wanted to plan another trip in the spring. So we planned a trip to Jamaica. Unfortunately, there has been civil unrest in Jamaica; so much so, it was deemed a safety risk. As we prayed and investigated, another opportunity arose. The spring mission trip has changed destinations. We are now sending a team of SSJ missionaries to Poland. In Poland, we’ll be ministering to Ukrainian refugees, helping to build a school for refugee children, and supporting charities as they distribute supplies. The funny thing is, the US State Department deems Poland as safe as Canada. So please pray for our group as they prepare for this mission trip. And pray for those they will be serving. Such an exchange of blessing is a sign of the unity of Christians. Plus such an exchange of faith, hope and love encourages us all. Not to mention, confronting the evil that is war. In that way, we’re travelling to bring blessedness to a hurting world.

God bless y’all!
Fr. Reynold

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