Summary: Wonderful news for those who mourn and wonderful news for the peacemakers at a time when war rages and bereavement is a reality for many people. This short ’homily’ was used at an all-age service and aims to provide hope for people in awful situations.
For the last few weeks we have been studying St. Paul’s first letter to the Greek Church at Thessalonica. Today we begin to look at some of the teachings of Jesus which have become known as ‘The Sermon on the Mount.’ Jesus was on the side of a mountain (5:1) when he delivered this message. Now, of course there aren’t really any mountains in Essex (UK), apart from Horndon-on-the-Hill, and perhaps the Billericay ridge; so we might need to think of a remote hillside that we have visited. As Jesus said these words, he was on the slopes to the west of Lake Galilee.
Some of you will know that I have a very large blister on the sole of my left foot which is why one of you asked me yesterday if I was going to preach sitting down. It is therefore interesting that on the mountainside Jesus sat down (5:1)! His disciples came to him, and Jesus began to teach them (5:2).
Do I have a few volunteer disciples?
These words of Jesus were aimed at anyone who is interested in being his disciple. So they are for those who already believe and trust in Jesus, whether we are 6 years old, or 86 years old, or 3 years old or 63 years old; and they are also for people who are not sure about Jesus! Crowds of people were trailing around wanting to find out about Jesus, and many of them heard this message. So it is also for people who want to investigate the person, the life and the message of Jesus – both then and now, whether we are 6 or 86, 3 or 63!
Bishop Tom Wright’s translation reads: “Wonderful news for the poor in spirit …wonderful news for the mourners; you are going to be comforted; wonderful news for the meek …wonderful news for people who hunger and thirst for God’s justice! You’re going to be satisfied” (5:3-6).
Jesus does not say, “This how the whole world must live.” However, he is saying that those who want to follow him will have these family traits. These beatitudes, or ‘beautiful attitudes’ as they’re sometimes known describe Jesus perfectly; and because Jesus helps us to know what God is like, they also describe God. We are not a perfect representation of all these things, but Jesus is!
Jesus is saying that as his kingdom comes, these words will become true; so no wonder Jesus taught his followers to pray to God, “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (Mt 6:10).
How many of us have watched the TV this week? How many of us have read a newspaper? How many of us have listened to the radio? I guess it’s likely that most (if not all) of us will be aware of the awful situation in Lebanon right now. Bombs have been exploded killing innocent men, women and children.
Also, we have heard the awful news concerning the Austin family from Billericay who were on holiday in Menorca and suffered a terrible car crash.
As we see such suffering, and perhaps as we experience suffering ourselves, these words of Jesus are timely, relevant, inspiring, and full of hope.
When we believe and trust in Jesus, the Son of God, and we learn of wars, bombs and innocent victims, Jesus says to us: “Wonderful news for the peacemakers! You’ll be called God’s children” (5:9).
When we believe and trust in Jesus, and we suffer bereavement, Jesus says to us: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (5:4 NIV). Jesus didn’t say we will never be sad. He didn’t say we will never be angry; but as his kingdom comes there is and there will be wonderful news for all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s pray!