Thursday, December 4, 2008

Daily - 12/4/08

Matthew 5:5

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Link (I didn't write this)

Jesus' Beatitude is a quotation from Psalm 37:11: "But the meek shall possess the land, they shall delight in abounding peace," and it taps into a strong biblical vision. Because the Israelites were people of the land, their dreams for peace often included the longing for a time when the land's bounty would not be destroyed and all could live on the land in peace.

Particularly beautiful is the vision of the future in Isaiah: "They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant; they shall not build houses for others to live in, or plant for others to eat. As the years of a tree, so the years of my people; and my chosen ones shall long enjoy the produce of their hands. They shall not toil in vain, nor beget children for sudden destruction....The wolf and the lamb shall graze alike, and the lion shall eat hay like the ox. None shall hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord" (65:21-25).

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus also envisions a kingdom of God where peace and justice abound, where all God's children have a place of security and joy. This is the powerful dream Jesus summons up at the beginning of his ministry. Blessed are the meek, the powerless, the downtrodden, because in God's reign they will not remain disenfranchised but will inherit the land. The Gospel's vision of a just future that reverses the situations of oppression that so often hold sway extends now beyond the land of Israel to the whole earth and encompasses all those whose lives and hopes are threatened and who have no resource to lean on other than God's own providence.

What is remarkable in the Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus himself throws his lot with people like this. He describes himself as "meek and humble of heart" (11:29) and the evangelist cites the words of the prophet Zechariah to emphasize the paradox of Jesus the king entering Jerusalem on a donkey. "Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass..." (Matthew 21:5, citing Zechariah 9:9). Jesus' mission is to identify with the least (21:35-46), to teach and heal that they might have justice and to exemplify the virtues of gentleness and humility that the Spirit of God instills.