When at the Mount of Beatitudes you can look down the grassy slope and see a field of banana trees. When you squint, you can imagine the trees as the immense crowd that would have been listening to Jesus speak. He spoke of an upside down and backwards world where the poor receive favour and the meek, not the mighty, will be lifted up. Where those who bring peace, not mighty warriors, would be called children of God. Jesus was preaching a new vision of what it looked like to be blessed. As I read these words, I was struck again by His words of peace that are relevant to us today, in a world that can feel saturated with war, injustice, and hate.
Peace is not just the absence of war, but the presence of harmony and reconciliation. Recently there has been an abundance of conversation surrounding immigration and refugee policies, the release of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, pain and uncertainty through job loss and economic downturn, and the many armed conflicts happening around the world and our (the West’s) role in the conflict to name just a few. In much of the dialogue I have heard people talk about the ‘other’ in demeaning ways that do not acknowledge the Imago Dei (the image of God) in which we are all created. When I read articles I try to follow the sage, ‘don’t read the comments!’ advice, but I can’t help myself. When confronted with the brutal reality of our inclinations to make people who are different than us ‘the other’, I see Jesus holding up the mirror in this passage. He is reminding us that we are called as His disciples to something unique in His upside down kingdom, to be bringers of mercy, comfort and peace to our world.
During this Lenten season, may we see each other with the eyes of God who created each person in His image, even if we don’t share the same beliefs. May we mourn with those who have lost jobs, homes, the ability to live in their homelands, and bring comfort in the name of Christ, rather than focus on protecting what we have. May we seek to bring the peace of Christ through our words and actions into situations of pain and injustice.
Lord, fill us with your Spirit, that we may reflect your love, mercy, grace, and peace. Amen.