This reading is very difficult for people like me: rich, full (just ate a Sarum lunch – they are good), happy and with a lot of people who speak well of me the ‘woes’ sound a grave warning signal.
The following verses are even more challenging: can we love enemies, offer the other cheek and give both our coat and our shirt? We would be naked. Verse 31 is a relief, it seems finally reasonable. How can we read this?
Calling somebody blessed or happy (makarios) is also done in other literature of the time in which Luke is writing. But the beatitudes in Luke are different, they bring a strange paradox. The poor, the hungry, the weeping and the hated are happy and carefree that is really rather contradictory. Reading this on All Saints’ Day brings the next fascinating leap in association that they are not only happy but also ‘saints’. Luke points to the past as evidence for his contradictory ideas and to the future for the fulfilment of blessing. If we take him for one moment at his word, how different would our world look?
30 October 2016
Luke 6: 20-31
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.