Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Waiting for the Coming

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Waiting for the Coming

Article excerpt

ADVENT IS UPON US: Waiting for the coming of Christ. But do we really know who he is or what his kingdom brings? His Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount are good reminders.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount simply has "blessed are you who are poor" (Luke 6:20). Taking Matthew and Luke together, the kingdom will become a blessing to those who are afflicted by both spiritual and material poverty. The physical oppression of the poor will be a regular subject in this kingdom, but the spiritual impov- erishment of the affluent will also be addressed and healed. Spiritual poverty is often the result of having too much and no longer depending on God. Jesus offers blessings and healing to those who are both poor and poor in spirit.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Those who have the capacity to mourn and weep for the world will be comforted by the coming of this new order. Jesus' disciples would later hear him say that loving their neighbor as themselves was one of the two great commandments (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27). To feel the pain of the world is to participate in the very heart of God and one of the defining char- acteristics of God's people.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Christ's kingdom turns our under- standing of power upside-down. Mary's Song, the Magnificat, prom- ises the same when she prays about what Christ's coming means: "He has scattered the proud ... brought down the powerful from their thrones ... lifted up the lowly ... filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:51-53). And when Jesus is asked who will be first in his king- dom, he tells them it will be the servants of all.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

To be hungry for "righteousness," a word in the scriptures that is often synonymous with "justice," will be a leading characteristic of Jesus' new order. Justice-social, economic, racial, and gender-is at the core of the kingdom of God. Those who long for justice, who are hungry and thirsty for it, demonstrate that they belong to a God who promises it.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Those who have the grace to show mercy and forgiveness will be an example now. If you need to be for- given for anything, the only way to receive it is to also offer it, says Jesus. …

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