Look at them flowing in like a wave of woe, like a river of the disinherited. This long line of broken people streaming out of Syria
—the diseased and demon-possessed, the epileptics and paralytics, the ailing and dying
—like Refugees all marching out to a hillside at the Jordon.
There Christ heals them.
There Christ blesses them.
In that blessing he interprets the healing he has done to them.
In that blessing he promises a life with God to all who hear his words.
To the Poor in Spirit, those wretched broken ones, he says:
“Don’t judge by outward appearances. God’s favor is not measured by things—poverty and riches do not point to the depths, or shallowness, of your faith. Instead, all these things are gifts from my Father… we live in this world as a guest in someone else’s house, never claiming its contents for our own.
In your multi-fold poverty you have found an equilibrium relating to things,
neither trusting and lusting after goods, nor martyring yourself in order to show good spiritual discipline—Yours is the Kingdom.”
To those who mourn, tears on cheek and sobs silent or aloud, he says the same:
“Emotions don’t indicate blessedness. Surely rejoice always and again I say rejoice, for God is with you and loves you and will never let you go,
but be ready to mourn with those who mourn.
It’s hard child,
simply being faithful in this life brings enough mourning and sorrow, there is no need to seek more.
This life hinders and hems us in on every side, it will make our heart sad—
but I’m here for you and with you, I bring you comfort.”
To the meek, hiding in the back and letting the mourning and poor go ahead of them, he says:
“Don’t you know that the first shall be last—you surely have not lost your reward.
I see me in you—I see the one who is in the likeness of God emptying himself and becoming a servant
—the humility of all that
—I see it, and so does my Father.
I come for you as well as to the others,
and my Father’s world is for you too—you are not disinherited, in fact you will inherit the earth.”
To those hungering for justice and thirsting for righteousness, haggard and determined, he says:
“I see you, day in, day out, firm of face and refusing to be chased off, or overcome by the world’s ingratitude and malice, pushing forward with all the might you can muster.
I see how you act for the general welfare, doing right in a world far from it.
Keep your hunger and your thirst close!—or you will turn to despair, sometimes those drives alone will keep you going when an unjust world wants to grind you down to dust.
But know this, the intentions of God are for justice to roll down like water and righteousness like an overflowing stream.
Those intentions are made plain, satisfied, and filled, by my righteousness given to you, even as you struggle for its presence here among us.”
To the merciful, tending to their fellows and paying as much attention to their needs as to the message, he says:
“Truly you have born much in your ongoing acts of mercy, you’ve received more than your fair share of suffering in turning the other cheek.
Continue to trust that “vengeance is mine says the Lord,” so that you do not seek that vengeance for your self and sully your good name or your soul.
Know this, the Lord of Mercy grants you all mercy.”
To the pure of heart, undistinguishable from anyone else in the crowd, he says:
“Where the heart is pure, all is pure. That is why I point to the tax collector’s anonymous prayer, not the Pharisee’s hyper-public one.
A man shoveling coal and stained deeply with it, but trusting God and loving neighbor, knows of my grace more fully than a pastor with white robes and flowing words.
Purity flows from faith, trust in my Father’s promises—the Word of God and serving those in need. I say to you, as you did to the least of these you did to me.
When those two connect, faith and service, surely you see God!”
To the peacemakers, holding back bloodshed and looking with understanding on the Other, he says:
“Hold fast against those old bloodhounds, the rulers of the nations, whose wars maim many and cause famine and retaliation, then justify it all with a shrug and a chuckle.
Hold fast to the better angels of your nature
—hold fast to your conviction that everyone you talk to, and talk about, are children of the same Heavenly Father.
Take that eighth commandment and use it to tell the truth about your neighbor, but the truth told so kindly that it may even transform their intentions and make right their actions—change from gossip into grace.
And in your holding back of violence and speaking truth in love, truly you are my sister and my brother, surely you will be called a Child of God.”
To the persecuted ones, threatened and destroyed for the sake of the Ways of God and of Christ, he says:
“this is no easy way,
to gain your soul you must lose the whole world—
they may strip you of popularity or reputation, goods, family, health or even life.
You might find before you torture and kidnapping—all kinds of evil—that’s to be expected, look what they did to the prophets, and John, and myself.
Yet, know this you poor hurt folk, yours is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Look at them listening to Christ there by the Jordon
Look at them, these healed women and men, given a life with God.
Look at them, healed and blessed.