Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
The young seminary student went back to her apartment after church and found an old woman sitting at the kitchen table. Two steaming cups of tea were poured and the woman gestured for the student to sit down. She began her critique much the way Mrs. Doubtfire might have spoken to her young wards.
''Now dearie, that was a wonderful sermon you gave today. I know you are still taking Greek, but there are just some things that you need to understand. You do know that Greek has two words for poor people don't you? The student blinked and said ''no.'' ''When the English says 'Blessed are the poor' it doesn't quite capture the meaning. In Jesus' day, there were working poor who were able to get by day to day. They were day laborers and domestic servants. We have many people like that today. Those are not the people Jesus is talking about. The word in the text is 'ptochos' which is the term for the destitute - people who were forced to beg. They were the lame, the widows and the orphans; refugees; people who were humiliated by their poverty.''
''You focused your sermon on the 'poor in spirit' which is how Matthew is translated, but that just wasn't at all what I (I mean) Jesus actually said. Focusing on the spiritual side of things is easy to do and it makes your congregation feel all warm and well, 'spiritual' but it misses the point. These sayings of Jesus were collected at different times when he went around the countryside actually showing people how they could work for justice against the overwhelming oppression of Roman occupation.''
''But if I talk about that people will think I am some kind of radical urging overthrow of the government'' the student replied. The old woman put the teacup to her lips and said ''Some might think that, but you have to try because your people are oppressed too and some don't even know it.'' The old woman continued. ''The poor in ...
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