Reflection Feb. 17, 2019
Jeremiah 17:5-10/ Luke 6:17-26
Blessed Are We
When I was a teacher, I had a way of positively brainwashing my young children. The gist of what I did was to tell them in a very serious tone that they are good or smart children and that the behaviour they are showing at the time is uncharacteristic of them, even if it is not true. I brainwash them so seriously that they start believing me, and their behaviour changes at least for that day. They start behaving with a calm dignity or try learning more seriously (because they are supposed to be good). So, my children changed their behaviour or attitude in learning after hearing that they are supposed to be good.
Several years ago, I saw a series of photos on the internet. A photographer approached random strangers on the street and told them that they were beautiful, and captured on the camera, their faces lighting up with beautiful smiles; before and after photos. You tell people they are beautiful, and they will become more beautiful because they now believe they are beautiful. This is why it is important to tell children and adults that are beautiful, worthy, loved, and capable. Oh, what we can all achieve when we start believing in ourselves!
Today, we heard God’s message of blessing to us. Jesus in the Gospel of Luke lists who are blessed and who are not. This pronouncement is quite subversive and shows us the subversive nature of God’s kingdom. Those who are blessed in God’s kingdom are marginalized in our society. Jesus is not saying that those who are not marginalized are automatically cursed. But as he says in other parts of the gospel, “it is the sick who needs the doctor.” He says marginalized people are blessed because they need a constant reminder that they are as worthy and loved as those who have privileges. Those with privileges don’t need that reminder; they don’t suffer low self-esteem. The upside-down values of God’s kingdom may sound like the marginalized are automatically blessed and those who have privileges are automatically cursed; but it is not the focus here that privileged people will be cursed in the afterlife because they had it all in the mortal life. What matters is that we understand God’s kingdom value that uplifts those who need constant reminding that they are worthy because the society doesn’t treat them as such.
The message that we are hearing today is that God calls us blessed, and that we should act like God’s blessed people. When my old students were told that they were good students, they sat up straighter and paid more attention in class. Now how should we act or live as people being called blessed by God? Listen to Jeremiah who says those who trust in God shall be like a tree planted by water sending out its roots by the stream. Those who put their trust in God and have their roots in God’s Spirit constantly hear God’s voice telling them they are blessed, worthy, and loved; and those who are constantly reminded that they are blessed can live with more courage and confidence. They will not fear the heat that life throws at them or be anxious. Their spirit will prosper with vitality as a tree planted by water has green leaves and produce fruit in due season as we read in Psalm 1.
Let God tell you that you are blessed and do not surrender to life’s ordeals. Stand tall in the midst of storms and confidently proclaim, “I am God’s blessed and beloved. I will keep my head up, trust God, and face this storm with courage and hope.” When we feel secure, it is easier to cope with whatever we go through. Let’s God’s message of blessing make you feel secure. As my students acted good when they were told that they were good, let our life reflect the message of love and blessing we receive from God. Let us live like we are blessed people. Blessed and beloved people love and respect themselves, and others too. They live with dignity of being God’s children and aspire to live like Jesus that we follow; with empathy, and sometimes righteous anger. We can live fully and courageously, knowing that we are God’s blessed people, and share our blessing with others; especially the marginalized who need more reminder than others. God called us blessed. Now let us go out and be the blessing to others.
Rev. Sunny Kim