January 26, 2023: All

Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.



I am reading the book, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others by Barbara Brown Taylor and just finished chapter 6 which starts with a quote by Thomas Merton: “God speaks to us in three places: in scripture, in our deepest selves, and in the voice of the stranger.” Taylor tackles the questions, worries, and concerns that arise when we encounter “difference” and “others”.

So, as I am immersed in this book, I read Matthew 5:1-12 and I realized the meek, the hungry and thirsty (for righteousness), the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted (for righteousness) are just that. People with those traits. They may be different. Others. Strangers. Jesus only names the traits and says those are the ones who are blessed. And Jesus encourages them all to rejoice and be glad! All.

I know there is a lot more to unpack here and I am not going to get to it. I recommend reading the book to dig deeper. But I love how she ends this chapter about others (or strangers). She writes, “No one owns God. …The main thing Jesus has asked me to do is to love God and my neighbor.” All.

–Ruth Gates



Dear God, speak to us in scripture, in our deepest selves and in the voice of the stranger.