Year A - Epiphany 4 or Guiding Gift 4
February 2, 2014
Large crowds followed Jesus for his teaching and healing. You can decide the proportion of followers. We suspect it was for the immediate healing, not the long-term life-changing teaching.
It is reported that Jesus saw them and went up a mountain. Was this a retreat to an attempted retreat? How far up did he go? The higher he went the fewer people would follow.
At some point Jesus sat down. We do not know how long he sat. Long enough for the stragglers to arrive? Long enough for an internal clarity?
Strange how Jesus refers to folks as “happy” those who most would characterize as troubled or unfortunate (CEB note).
Verses 1-10 are of a piece - pronouncement of happiness and a reason for such. Verses 11-12 is a different animal and is worth a deeper look as it shifts from the general “Happy are people...” to the specific “Happy are you...”.
People in the pews need to hear this distinction so they can see the blessing in those they might otherwise overlook and also hear their particular call to be prophets. In a sense a priest can only be a Priest if the people are being Prophets. These two functions can then inform one another. If the priest is trying to get others to be priests, the church ends up being an echo-chamber rejoicing on every street corner that it isn’t like those other miserable SOBs.
What, then, will the prophets do about the hopeless, grieving, walked upon, hungry and thirsty (ref Luke’s version here)? How will they see mercy, purity, and peace in others that may be even greater than their own?
Here is a test: Does Leviticus exercise you more than Matthew 5-7? If so you may be a church-gate-closer rather than a Sermon-on-the-Mount-door-opener.