Our readings reveal God’s desire to bless us; to make us happy in this life and the next.
Blessedness is more than happiness which depends on the happenstances, chances and changes of this life
It’s a joy no one can take from us because it is given by Jesus who said in John’s gospel, “No one shall take your Joy from you.”
We are blessed when we are persecuted, reviled and spoken of falsely because we follow Jesus; blessed even during pandemics.
Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven.”
The beatitudes give us a glimpse into another world. They shows us what heaven is like where our God reigns supreme and they give a picture of how this world would be if we adopted these values. We pray, “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
The blessings seem to be a contradiction, the opposite of what happens in the real world. When we look at earthly leaders it seems as if those who are arrogant, boastful, and greedy succeed and become rich, if not happy.
Those unable to empathise with others, those who think only of themselves and those who are prepared to dominate by use of force are winners. Those who are utterly ruthless, cruel and immoral often dominate and suppress everyone under them.
Look at President Trump’s methods of electioneering!
Jesus totally repudiates worldly values. They will not bring us happiness and peace on earth.
Jesus and his followers are poor in spirit. They are not proud arrogant and loud. They are not pushy, fighting their own corner.
They are happy because they know they are already winners even though they might look like losers. The Kingdom of heaven, Jesus says is theirs.
Jesus says that we are blessed when we mourn, whether it is because of sin and suffering in the present or because of the loss of loved ones. We have mourned the loss of so many we love and so much of what we took for granted. Jesus says we will be comforted. Nothing good, beautiful and worthwhile will be lost eternally.
We are blessed when we are meek or humble. When we recognise who are and our relationship with our creator, we see that all we have and are comes from him. Meekness is not about being subservient or spineless. It is about being real about ourselves.
If we are humble we recognise that we are but dust, (humus), that we are created beings but in Christ we inherit our promised land.
Jesus says we are happy when we hunger and thirst after righteousness. No way should we be content with the way things are. Godly discontent leads us to fight for justice, to speak truth to power, to be good news to the poor and actively heal and help those in need. Doing those things may leave us crushed but the alternative will leave us feeling empty inside. Jesus promises that when we are on his side we will be filled and strengthened through his Holy Spirit.
Jesus says we are blessed when we are merciful because we will receive mercy. Jesus forgave his enemies, even those who crucified him. We forgive because Jesus forgives us. The bitter bearing of grudges and judgemental attitudes make us unhappy and are destructive.
Jesus says we are happy when we are pure of heart, clean on the inside. Only the pure of heart can see God.
He says we are blessed when we are peacemakers for then God calls us his children.
We cannot live out Kingdom values in our own strength. We rely on Jesus, the only person who has ever fully live out Kingdom values on earth. Because he was pure in heart, merciful, meek and hungered and thirsted for righteousness on earth he was persecuted and suffered and died to bring peace between God and us and heaven and earth.
When we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, we become children of God, citizens of the Kingdom of heaven and according to Paul’s letters saints.
We are blessed and happy because of the amazing love our heavenly Father has poured out upon us. We have a relationship with God that the world doesn’t understand or know about. It is personal to each one of us.
Because God loves us so much, we can be reassured that the life to come will be even better. None of us fully understand what heaven will be like. One day soon we will experience, understand and know what life is like it all its fullness.
It will be lovely to see our loved ones again, but more important we will see God. We will see Jesus face to face and be like him. We too will have resurrection, spiritual bodies.
Because it is impossible to describe what heaven is really like and because Revelation was written during a time of severe persecution in the Roman Empire when many Christians were being martyred, John in exile on the island of Patmos uses picture language to describe his visions.
Those who are honoured in heaven are those who have come out of a great ordeal. They are dressed in white, a symbol of purity, not because of the deeds that they have done but because they have washed their robes clean in the blood of the lamb Even though they have suffered it is the suffering of Jesus that takes away our sin.
Only he can make us whole. He will be our shelter, there will be no more hunger or thirst, and we will not suffer the effects of climate change. There will be no scorching heat. Jesus will be our shepherd, guide us to the springs of the water of life and wipe away every tear from our eyes.
We do not have to suffer persecution to endure ordeals. We all suffer during our lifetimes as a result of sickness, our own sin and that of others and death.
We can enjoy the salvation Jesus has won for us on the cross and join in the worship in heaven now. We do not see clearly but by faith we know that we are part of the great multitude from every tribe and nation who worships our Lord as King. Instead of Hosanna, “Save us,” they wave palm branches and cry out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God and to the lamb.” Jesus the lamb of God has saved them. He has taken away the sin of the world.
We have a higher King than Caesar and governments of this world. One day we will see angels, the twenty four elders and the four living creatures (whoever they are) and our worship will be glorious.
We are blessed already. When we worship we enjoy fellowship with God and each other. We are saved and forgiven now. Jesus has covered our sin and shame with the robe of righteousness.
We are still living in an earthly Kingdom where there is much injustice and suffering. None of us are immune.
When God’s Kingdom has fully come; Where Christ reigns supreme, when we have entered eternity, these things will be behind us.
Until that day let us rejoice and be glad as we live out the values of the age to come here on earth in union with those who have gone on before us and all the company of heaven.