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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, April 23, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 5:1–11

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.” (NRSV)

There may be certain scriptures you hold close to your heart and revisit when you need comfort or truth during a really pivotal time in your life. For me, the Beatitudes is one of those passages. 

A majority of society lifts up ideals of greed, righteousness, pride, and success. At the same time, it rebukes those living in poverty. It regards the humble and meek as weak. But the Beatitudes flip the script on what’s traditionally acceptable in society. Jesus reminds the crowds that those who speak out, those who lift others up while sacrificing their own needs, those who are persecuted and outcast for their beliefs in following the gospel—those are the ones who are truly blessed.

Today’s scripture is especially meaningful to me because my husband and I chose it for the gospel reading at our wedding. It is full of unadulterated truths about our combined faiths. We commit ourselves to living humbly and make every effort to live out the gospel through our words and actions. And we commit to bringing more individuals into our community, so they feel heard and cared for, despite their circumstances.

But this is a very tough call to answer, day in and day out. Unlike for those who hold up greed and fame, there are no parades. There are no trumpets to announce the news of your good deeds. Your peacemaking is often met with opposition; your advocacy is often dismissed as a lost cause.

Still, we as Christians are committed to pursuing justice while on this human journey—absent of the spotlight and often met with resistance. We may not see the rewards in our lives, but our efforts are for those still to come and for our journeys that continue beyond our time on earth.

Christ of abundant blessings, remind us to seek justice, make peace, and live out the gospel even when we live beyond the fruit of our efforts. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens Harris, Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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