Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Commentary on the Beatitudes 5:3-10

The Beatitudes are eight blessings in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative, "cryptic, precise, and full of meaning. Each one includes a topic that forms a major biblical theme". (Wikipedia)

The words of Jesus reflect the Love of Jesus for the many people he encountered in his life and ministry.  It is his manifesto regarding care and concern for the people of God.  It is his manifesto of blessing, of God reign.  Manifesto might be considered a strong word, maybe inappropriate at some level yet the reader should consider the context in which he preached.  Manifesto’s typically declare or proclaim an alternative vision of life.  This alternative view may or may not identifies deficiencies.  This becomes problematic for the authority of empire as they spend unceasing hours ensuring that the empirical vision is maintained.  The manifesto of blessing is problematic, even radical on many levels.  Jesus is blessing the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, he pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for the sake of righteousness. (Matt. 5:3-10)

Blessings are an expression of God’s love for the beloved, for those who desire God.  We are clear that the blessings are for those whose desire is for God and the Kingdom of God and not the world as offered to Jesus by Satan. (Matt. 4)  Those who exclusively seek the blessings of the world, i.e. capitalism, globalization and their implications, considered the realm of temporal concerns, receive the world Satan has to offer considering those who desire differently as antithetical to the primacy of materialism considered by some as a scheme of Satan and agents of evil within the context of sacred biblical text. 

The great interests of the Beatitudes in is that it is the revelation of Jesus Christ own character, as kind of autobiography.  Simply put it is his life, it is his community.  It is his dynamic vision of the Kingdom of God.  The implications of Christ’s revelation are transformational as those who have lived in their desire for God initiate their new found blessing in the temporal world.  Imagine for a moment the challenge as the formerly oppressed and downtrodden, now living in the eternal blessings of God, having obtained the strength imparted by Jesus to address the injustice perpetrated by the agent’s and advocates of the schemes of materialism.   I write here of the Church, the vision of Jesus Christ for the care and concern of humanity, and composed of those who desire is for God.  The Church, in its engagement of the injustices of the world, should be the visible manifestation of those identified in the Beatitudes.  

The Church is the beloved community.  It is the revelation of Jesus and it is identified by Jesus with the Kingdom of God. (Matt. 16:18-19)   The Church is composed of those whose hearts have been touched by God’s desire, regardless of joys, sorrows, poverty and riches, as beautifully expressed by Jesus in the Beatitudes.  Yet, more so, the words of Jesus intimate a real substantive significance, his words identify the divine and sacred longing of God.   The profound calling of the Beatitudes echoes down through the millennia asking, “How the longing of God shall be expressed?”  Those with a sincere heart for Jesus are compelled by the love of Jesus to reflect on this consequential question. 

The beatitudes reminds us that human worth is grounded in a great and magnificent love seldom understood yet so real.  Frankly, it is where we stand in this day of injustice!!


Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thoughts on the shooting of nine black people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

The massacre of nine African American People of faith in a bible study at Emmanuel African American Episcopal Church an historical church in Charleston, South Carolina reminds me that there are few if any boundaries in our society when it comes to black people and the senseless terrorism experienced.  Once again the black church is the scene of racial hatred, violence and death.  With this incident coming on the heels of a white woman claiming to be black I am left asking, why?  Yes there are simplistic answers but these answers don’t address the core issue of how and why we produce people who do what should be considered absurd and blatantly evil.   Admittedly times of change and transformation considered hopeful for people such as myself as a black, transgender woman, are liberating, yet for some, in this case a young 21 year old white male who has been identified with white supremacist symbols and ideology, times of change and transformation, can cause anger and inflict fear, pain and displacement, which I believe at some level to be an issue of mental health.  That said, the question is, at least for me, is, “How do we fix this?” 
I believe that we must have the political will and socio-cultural courage to take on the hard stuff of working on ourselves as a people who claim to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.  We must be willing to look into the abyss, as John Stewart of the Daily Show pointed out, and see ourselves and our nation for who we truly are.   We spend billions of dollars seeking to sooth some emotion and material inequity engaging existential threats but very little to address our own internal domestic terrorism.  We ask, of the Taliban and ISIS, “How is the terrorist produced?”  We should look no farther than our own oppressive constructs and how these constructs communicate to us, declarative statements such as “This is who you are. I am reminded of Marvin Gaye’s song, “What’s Going On” of 1971 in one sense, similar to the war in Vietnam, the war on terrorism has become a means to keep our attention off of what really matters, what is really going on within.  It’s an expensive scheme indeed. 

Tragedies which occur in life are typically symptoms of deeper more critical, even life threatening issues.   In a recent Facebook post I suggested that the United States should be reconstituted so as to provide for a new sense of being not biased toward the construct of race historically developed for the furtherance of privileged white men and their economic interests.  This might be considered a tall order simply because the construct of race defines so much of life here in the United States.  It is sacred and holy ground, more so than our humanity, and it doesn’t take kind to any violation as seen in the controversy of Rachel Dolezal and others.  Yet I, as an African American fully aware of the price of admission required to claim my blackness or any other racial identity, want to suggest here that our socio-cultural and political bias towards race is becoming more and more fraught with fear, and senseless violence as the demographics shift.  One way of addressing this bias is by developing controlled listening spaces throughout the country where people wherever they fall of on the spectrum of race can speak freely about race, racism and its effects.  This might go well for those who are fearful of some backlash.
As a nation of the 21st century we must not allow race and racism to be our Achilles heel.  We must take concerted efforts to gradually move beyond race as a central narrative of our country and republic.