What I’m Thinking: Tangible Beatitudes

In Matthew, Jesus’ Beatitudes are about the needs of the spirit. In Luke, Jesus’ Beatitudes are about the needs of the body.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the sixth chapter of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 6:17-26), at least that portion of it which opens what Luke called Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain.

The opening words – in fact, much of the content of the Sermon on the Plain – is quite familiar. It closely parallels what we find in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. Both of them open with the Beatitudes. But Luke’s version is different.

We are more familiar with Matthew’s “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” but in Luke, the phrase is “Blessed are the poor, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.” In fact, we’re so used to Matthew that – I hope you’ll indulge me – I’ll actually read the whole section aloud.

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Luke 6:17-26

Matthew’s version is more spiritual. Instead of God’s blessing being given to those without physical needs, Matthew talks about those blessings going to those with spiritual needs. Luke also quoted Jesus with a series of “woes,” not quite curses but predictions that those who are wealthy will someday lack, that those who are full will someday hunger, and that those who are well spoken of are much like the false prophets of the ages before.

So what are we to make of this?

First of all, take close note that Jesus, that God are interested in teh physical well beaing of humanity, that poverty and hunger are things to be changes, that wealth and comfort are things that may well have to change in order that the poor and the hungry may be filled. Notice also that human feeling is important to Jesua and to God. Those who weep will be comforted. And those who laugh? Well, predicting that someone who is laughing will someday weep is not a hard prediction in this world.

It’s also a warning that the messages of God will not always be well received and may frequently be poorly received, as indeed these messages about the value of wealth versus God’s concern for the poor have been astonishingly poorly received over the millennia. Whereas message that preach easily? Those were frequently the messages of the false prophets.

We need to take a close look at this world that we live in, and realize that we have reversed Jesus’ beatitudes. We value wealth. We revel in comfort. We laugh easily – except for those who don’t. Except for those who are hungry. Except for those who weep because of their tears.

And all too often, the voices of those who speak of that condition, they are condemned, and the voices who praise wealth and power are raised up.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Program note: There will not be an edition of What I’m Thinking on Monday, February 14. Look for the next episode on February 21.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on February 7, 2022

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1 Comment

  1. by Janet

    On February 7, 2022

    According to Luke, Jesus threatened the rich and powerful but appealed to the poor, I am wondering how these two groups would respond to Jesus if Jesus were with us today.

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