During the next several Sundays we here Lukeís ďSermon on the PlainĒ Ėhis account of the tradition which Matthew renders in his Sermon on the Mount. There was obviously an earlier tradition of a compendium of the sayings of Jesus which, as it was handed on, emerged in two somewhat different forms.
Matthew edited one version and Luke another. Despite different settings and wordings (Matthew has eight beatitudes, Luke has four beatitudes and four woes) both have the same theme: a description of the kind of lives the followers of Jesus will live if they trust in Jesusís revelation of Godís love.
The beatitudes are not normative, not new obligations to be added to the commandments. Rather they are descriptive, new insights into the possibility of life when one trusts in God as Jeremiah says in the bible.
Once upon a time there was a gifted young man from an impoverished background that set out to prove himself. He studied hard, work his way through college and business school, and dedicated himself to success in the company that hired him. Because he combined street smarts and intellectual shrewdness, he was extremely successful and rapidly moved up in the company, becoming a senior vice president before he was forty.
He married a fine woman and they had three splendid children, though he had little time for them, so determined was he to make it to the top. In the process he earned a lot of money and piled up valuable stock options.
Just ten more years, he promised his wife, then Iíll be able to relax and enjoy life. All our kids will be out of college by then. Iíll make it all up to them, he promised. Neither the wife nor the kids believe him.
Then on the day of his 40th birthday he keeled over with a heart attack and almost died.
Too much stress the doctors said. Youíve got to leave your company and settle back to a more relaxed life. I canít he pleaded, Iíll be the next CEO! I canít pass up that opportunity. Youíll be a dead CEO the doctor replied unless you change your life style. I canít, the man said, I must make it to the top.
Buy the best insurance you can get the doctor replied because your wife will be a widow before youíre forty five.
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the
counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the
seat of scoffers;
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