By Dr. Michael Layne
---- — “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3’ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”
This week’s Gospel lesson is a great teaching by Our Lord. We find Him on this mountain and the disciples come to Him, and there He lays the groundwork for His followers to understand that doing what’s right is always best.
Granted, to do what is right, does not always come easy in some cases. As Christians, we do take our share of being laughed at, made fun of and enduring other insults by those who do not believe in the cause of Christ.
“Blessed” can also be translated as “Happy is the one who.” What difference in tone or accent do you find between these two translations?
For example; let’s consider verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Now, let’s substitute “blessed” for “Happy is the one who is poor in spirit.”
Dr. Robert H. Schuller wrote a book entitled; “The Be-happy attitudes.” When we read the Biblical passages it is important to look at the big picture. It is also good to have a working knowledge of language structures.
Christianity is not based on drudgery but, on hope, faith, love and understanding that happiness is a part of the experience but, we must allow ourselves to be open to what God has provided for us.
As you look at this week’s Gospel passage and hear your pastor’s homily this week, think happy in terms of blessed. I know some pastors will not be preaching from this passage, so go over this gospel lesson and take a good look at what it is saying.
Jesus makes it clear that the prophets of old were tormented and mistreated, so the disciples will not be the first to experience taunting. The practice among the non-believer has continued for centuries, and yet the church remains. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that we Christians understand the value of submission to the Holy Spirit? I would like to think that is true, and I do.
There are many ways in which we can share Christian love. It is easy to become discouraged when we have done everything we know to do in order to reach out to our community and receive little to no response. Let me encourage you to continue reaching out to those who have no relationship with Christ. Don’t give up on the Great Commission of “going into all the world with the gospel.”
Be encouraged, be happy and be loving. Someone is watching each of us and how we react to situations. Spread some happiness around so it becomes contagious, like this darn flu bug! The results are much better with happiness than with the flu. Amen.
The Most Rev. Michae Layne is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or through www.doclayne.com where you can read more of his blogs.