I was leading a study on the Beatitudes the other day, just a few days after the siege on the American capital. We discovered the two were incredibly intertwined.
Jesus was seeking to challenge a notion that was prevalent in the ancient world – that God’s love and blessings are finite. People believed there was only so much to go around. Thus, if you have lots of blessing the night have less.
Jesus challenged that. Jesus challenged the belief that people they could only achieve blessing – a sense of being more fully in the presence of God – by being nice (and by extension telling them that wealth and prestige were the best signs of being blessed). Jesus told them that they could feel more fully in God’s presence when they were poor, hungry, anxious, mourning – in short, when they were at the bottom.
Beyond that, Jesus told them that there were no limits to God’s love and blessing: they are available to all of us without limit.
When I watched people storm the US capital I thought of what many of them might be thinking. There was anger, to be sure – astonishing anger. But much of that stemmed from a sense that there is only so much of everything to go around – only so much wealth and freedom. If others (here you can substitute words like “immigrants, gays and lesbians, women”) have these things then maybe there won’t be enough for me.
In these days it was so helpful to read the beatitudes again and be reassured there is enough of God’s love for the entire world. Several times over. So let us relax and be a little kinder – all is in good hands.