Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blessed are the poor

"Blessed are the poor...."
So began one of the most beautiful sermons every given, from a mountain side in the Middle East, so many years ago.
There is no doubt that there exist today the privileged and the disenfranchised.  Sometimes this is the obvious difference between the 1% and the 99% and sometimes it is less obvious.
Sometimes it is in the two sets of rules that have become so common that they are the accepted norm.
One group punches a clock, the other doesn't.
One group gets preferred parking, the other doesn't.
One group gets disciplined for bullying in the workplace, the other group abuses authority.
One group gets jail time, the other a slap on the wrist.
One group parks the cars and the other goes inside.
It's not fair and the sermon on the mount addresses this unfairness.
      “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
      “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
      “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
      “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
      “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
      “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
     “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.

Nowhere in the sermon does it say to be passive, not to try to right wrong, not to fight the good fight.  Rather, I believe it is a message to those who do fight against injustice, a message of understanding, a recognition that it will not be easy, that we will get discouraged, but that in the end we will be rewarded.

Nearly 2000 years after these words were spoken by a homeless, Jewish carpenter, a country was born,  conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

A country that would become the hope of the world, a light on the hillside, so much so that the people of France would give us a monument to celebrate this ideal, placed in the most prominent point of entry to this country and on it are the words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Many generations have struggled to achieve this dream, this equality, this respect.  
May we have the strength to continue this struggle, knowing that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied.

No comments: