Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Week in Summary: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the Peacemakers

The news in summary from Jesus as he might confront the events of this past week; I suspect be might say something like this;
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” ~Matthew 5:9
This is not the news of what did happen, it is the news of what must happen. It is Good News!

The Psalmist says; “I have seen violence and strife in the city”
~Psalm 55:10

From Bagdad to Baton Rouge, from Minnesota to Dallas, dreadful images of violence assault the senses this week. Live and in living color, indelible images of violence are etched in our memories. We are left with a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Where shall we turn?

Jesus was confronted with violence and terror. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, by the way, I have often thought, could easily have been a biographical one for Jesus. Geographically, it would be unlikely for a Samaritan to be so far south as the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. 

But what of the road from Nazareth down to the Sea of Galilee where Jesus set up his base of operations? Had he taken this road, he would have gone through an area known as the Horns of Hittim, an area famous for its robbers. Imagine if Jesus had taken such a route. Imagine Jesus, beset by thugs and miscreants, robbed, beaten and left to die. Imagine a priest and a Levite passing by afraid to touch this unclean unfortunate. Then imagine a Samaritan who could easily have passed by the area. Geographically, that would have made more sense since Samaria was not that far away. 

Samaritans were despised by the Jews of the day, imagine him stopping and taking his time, risking his life, bandaging the wounds, and saving the life of Jesus, this most unfortunate and vulnerable of human beings. Imagine the Samaritan taking his hard earned money and providing for him during his recovery.

Imagine if this were Jesus and what an indelible and formative mark this would have left on his life and how God could have used such a moment as this to enflesh what love is and how we are all intended to live it out.

Imagine such a love as this in a violent world. 
Then and now. 
Imagine such a love as this.
A love that breaks all boundaries.

We need to come back to our senses. It is not enough for us to wring our hands as if there is nothing we can do. After all we are called to preach the Gospel and moreover we are called to live the Gospel. So then lets get on with it.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Folks it is as simple as Sunday School. We had to memorize certain portions of Scripture and this was one of the very first and favorite passages to learn by heart; The Beatitudes.

Remember them?

 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These words satisfy something deep within the human soul. It is in the living of these words that God's kingdom is built!

Jesus goes on; 

 ‘You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

We know these words by heart. We know this way of life instinctively. Let us proclaim and live the Gospel of Jesus. The world is desperate to hear the words. The world is desperate to live them. There is no hope or salvation for us unless we live lives like this.

My English teachers used to teach us to “compare and contrast” various passages in literature.

I suggest to you; compare and contrast the words of Jesus to the words we listen to in the news, read in the papers, or hear along the campaign trail. How do they measure up to the words of Jesus?

I find it compelling that Paul begins his letters with these words; “Grace and Peace to you from God our Father”. He goes on to say that God, “has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. May I remind you, these folks lived in a dangerous and violent time.

If ever there were a time of rescue from the darkness of violence this would be it. If ever there were a time for redemption and forgiveness, it has arrived. The time is always here and always now.

Peacemakers may be persecuted or killed outright. Dr. Martin Luther King, for instance. I came across his words this week. Timely words for us, for as Black lives matter, so do police lives. All our lives matter; Dr. King wrote;
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
~The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, God knows we need to learn how to live our lives better than we do now. Too much violence. Too much hate.

Black and white,
Arab and Jew
Shea & Sunni Muslim
Rich and poor
Gay and straight
Republican & Democrat
On and on and on it goes.
O for heaven sake, we can do better than this!

The collect for the day asks this simple prayer “grant that we may know and understand what things we ought to do and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them”

This week's news in summary; the Good News in summary this week and every week;
"Blessed are the Peacemakers".

In the Name of God, the Most Holy, Undivided and Everlasting Trinity. Amen

Fr Paul


Barry Chitwood said...

Father Paul, thank you for this. Your compassionate heart always gets to the heart of the matter. The words of Jesus at the conclusion of today's Gospel reading resonate with me--"Go and do likewise."

Cathy Burton said...

I do enjoyed your words of wisdom!

Catherine from Insight Timer

Cathy Burton said...

I do enjoyed your words of wisdom!

Catherine from Insight Timer

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thank you Cathy Burton.
Thank you Barry Chitwood.