When I drive to work early these dark winter mornings, I usually drive down Market Street, past the Aberdeen Bus terminal, past the Aberdeen Police Department, Past City Hall, The library, CCAP, etc.
Ever since River City was torn apart, people have struggled to find shelter, water and bathroom facilities our downtown area of Aberdeen.
Ultimately, the City of Aberdeen opened a place to “live” next to City Hall. But that too came to an end.
After the City Sponsored Tent City next to City Hall was literally bulldozed down, once again, people were left with no place to call home, no place to access water and no place to go to the bathroom.
However, people are resilient. They have grit. They have determination. And the Tent encampment has risen again, much to the disapproval of many housed people.
But the fact remains that as I drive through town, the Poor, the Hungry, those who weep, those who are sick and have no place to find warmth and comfort in their times of need still fill the doorways and the sidewalks of our fine town.
No heat. No shelter. No safety. No water. No bathroom facilities.
Just who are these people?
These people are parents. Brothers and Sisters. Veterans. Students. Children. Infants. They are disabled and some have big medical, addiction and mental health issues. They are Grandparents. Aunties and Uncles. These people are children of someone. They are musicians and artists. They are college graduates and school dropouts. They are many sizes and shapes. They are culturally diverse. They hold many different beliefs. They are friends. They are leaders.
They are worthwhile Human beings.
They are people, just like you and I.
Well, what does all this have to do with today’s Gospel from Luke?
Today’s Gospel is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. We also find a version of the Beatitudes in the Gospel in Matthew.
So, I got to wondering what both versions looked like and how they were alike and different.
According to the good old Encyclopedia Britannica:
A Beatitude is , “any of the blessings said by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount as told in the biblical New Testament in Matthew 5:3–12 and in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20–23. Named from the initial words (beati sunt, “blessed are”) of those sayings in the Latin Vulgate Bible, the Beatitudes describe the blessedness of those who have certain qualities or experiences peculiar to those belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven.”
My gut reaction when first comparing the two Gospels is that the Gospel from Luke is very much about Social Transformation which is quite different from Matthew’s Gospel which seems to be based on Discipleship.
I know the comparison and contrast of these two gospels is much deeper than my simplified explanation, but these are my big take aways after looking at them.
One major difference between the Gospels is in Luke’s version, Jesus came down amongst the people and stood with them, unlike in Matthew where Jesus is seen up on a mountainside away from the people surrounded only by his friends, the disciples. Luke’s version implies that Jesus by being with and around the people, truly understands the humanist of what it meant to be human. Matthew’s version is directed more towards the disciples who follow him up onto the mountain where he is telling them the conditions that they would be living in and with, should they follow him. Like the rules of being a disciple.
In Luke, we read, “Blessed are you who are poor” and in Matthew he writes: “blessed are the poor in spirit”. Again, meaning that in Luke, this is Jesus’s response to seeing the people is among, and in Matthew, this refers to the disciples. The people are actually poor whereas the disciples might get depressed with their mission.
In Luke, we read, “Blessed are you who weep now”, present tense, and in contrast Matthew writes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”, future tense.
In Luke we read, “Blessed are you who hunger now” and in Matthew, “Blessed for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for the they will be filled. Luke is talking about people who are actually physically hungry and Matthew is talking about a state of being. Once again comparing the people vs. the Disciples.
And perhaps the biggest difference between the two Gospels is when we read in Luke: “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.”
And in Matthew: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Luke is actually talking about people who are suffering real human physical conditions and are being persecuted for it. Matthew is talking more in the philosophical realm that the Disciples will face.
Luke is addressing those in need and Matthew addressing the disciples, giving them advice and a pep talk.
So where does this leave us? Are we the people Luke is addressing or are we the Disciples Matthew is addressing?
I think we are both at the same time.
The challenge we face is that we should be more like the Jesus in Luke’s Beatitudes, walking and being with those who are suffering.
And we should be like the Disciples in Matthew’s version as we follow our own baptismal ministries in our own discipleship.
The Unhoused remain unhoused here in Grays Harbor and in way too many cities of our country and the world.
These are the folks Luke is talking about.
These are the folks that Jesus walks with and holds so dear to his heart. They are indeed Blessed.
But They are also the Disciples. Just as we are.
And just like the disciples that Jesus addresses on the mountain, it is our responsibility through our own discipleship to take care of others, especially those who are in need. We get our pep talk from the Beatitudes in Matthew.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.”