What does the Lord ask of you?
Dear Brothers and Sisters
“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). If it was only Micah who pleading with us we could be forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t too serious a demand. But Zephaniah adds his voice to the chorus of voices – “Seek the Lord, all you, the humble of the earth, who obey his commands. Seek integrity, seek humility.” I could search the other prophets of the Old Testament and provide loads of quotes but, in a sense, I don’t need to. Jesus does it all for us. He wraps up the teaching of Moses and the prophets in his famous Sermon on the Mount which we have in Matthew’s gospel today. What a wonderful list of things for us to think about. Remember that Jesus teaching isn’t just a kind of election manifesto – he is not Jeremy Corbin, or Teresa May or, least of all, Donald Trump. His values are about a way of life so different to their vision as to raise loads of questions. Are they “pie in the sky” thinking? Are they unobtainable in the “real world”? Or are they suggesting a different set of values and ways of life? A different future and purpose in living.
These my brothers and sisters, are the values of the Kingdom of God. To pursue them and to live them out will bring true happiness and the fullness of joy and life. The fact that they do not correspond with so many of the world’s promises should not cause us to question the Beatitudes but to look inquiringly at the values of the world and especially those proposed by people like Trump et al. It is the last one that, perhaps, is the most salient in today’s political climate. “Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you” – if you speak out against lies, “alternative facts”, torture, avoidance of due process, injustice, bigotry and so many other things – you raise your head above the parapet and open yourself up to disdain at a minimum, and abuse and persecution. Already in the US 4 journalists have been arrested over the many marches in opposition to Donald Trump.
The Old Testament prophets were all put to death and, as for Jesus – well we know what happened to him. But no one saw the resurrection coming. Except Jesus. And the prophets.
With my love