Text study for Matthew 5:1-12
Lectionary texts for All Saints Sunday, November 6, 2011
I love that every year on All Saints Sunday we hear the familiar Beatitudes. And whether it’s Luke’s version, with both the blessings and the woes, or Matthew’s version, which is all about blessings, the bottom line for me is the reminder that it is God who determines who we are and not the world.
In this reading, Jesus offers us a picture of God’s values and God’s priorities, and he offers them as an alternative to the vision of life the world often presents.
The world tells us that it is only the rich, the self-satisfied, the happy and the popular who are blessed. But in today’s reading Jesus shouts from the mountaintop, “Nonsense! You are blessed because I say you are blessed. You are blessed no matter what external conditions prevail in your life, because it is God, and not the world, that has the final word about who you really are.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like good news to me. It is the kind of news that can transform a person. For no matter who you think you are, no matter where you are in life — whether you are riding sky high or are down in the depths — God is there.
You who are told by the world you are not worthy, you who are looked down upon because of your race, gender, sexual orientation; you who are mourning; you who are poor or homeless or unemployed; today Jesus reaches out his arms and pulls you close and says, God has not left you alone!
In fact, Jesus declares to us all that God is with us and loves us, and we are blessed. Jesus is proclaiming to us and to the world that it is not our circumstances or the world that determine who we are. Instead, it is the almighty, saving grace of God that makes that determination.
The challenge for us today is to open ourselves up to God’s kingdom, and receive this radical new reality that Jesus inscribes on our hearts. For when we do, we will find we are truly filled with the light of God and we will want to let that light shine through us to all whom we meet.
- When is it that you most know that you are a beloved child of God?
- How does God provide for you even when your circumstances are troubling, challenging or difficult?
- How do you honor the blessedness of others, even those with whom you disagree or are different?
Colleen Cox is the pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church an ELCA congregation in Hawley, Pa. She is the mother of two daughters, a New York Giants fan and is delighted at the opportunity to live in a place where bald eagles can be spotted regularly from her yard.