July 10th Sermon on the Mount 4 “Mother of Exiles”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today’s verse from the Sermon on the Mount deos not require much explanation because its meaning is obvious:​

Matthew 5:6​

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,​

    for they will be filled.​

Most of people alive today are hungering and thirsting for righteousness in others.  We all fall victim to someone’s sin.  Because of the violence of some people,​ we are afraid to walk in some places at night and some in broad daylight.  Because of the sins of some people, we may be kept from some care and services that we are entitled too.  ​

Because of the sin of some people, we have reason to fear that we might be mistreated by police, courts, or other government agencies.  Because of the sin of some people, we fear the dangers of terrorists, identity thieves, and gang violence.  Because of the sins of some people, we might be put in unsafe situations.  Because of the sins of some people, we may​be forced to drink poisoned water, eat tainted food, and breathe polluted air.​

Because of the sins of some, many of us grew up with the threat of nuclear war.  Because of the sins of some, we have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.​  Because of the sins of some, the native people of America have been oppressed and killed off for centuries. Because of the sin of some, our land was cursed with slavery, and civil war. ​ Because of the sin of some more than 50 million people died in World War Two.  Because of the sin of some, more people are suffering from the current Pandemic.  ​Because of the sin of some,many of ancestors escaped oppression and violence to come to America.​

T​o raise money for the building of the Pedestal of the statue of Liberty, the poet Emma Lazarus, wrote this description of what the statue represented:​

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,​

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;​

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand​

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame​

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name​

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand​

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command​

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.​

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she​

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,​

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,​

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.​

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,​

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”​

So, even the Statue of Liberty (or “the Mother of Exiles”), is a symbol of this yearning for righteousness.​

This desire for righteous behavior in others is universal.​

Again,​

Matthew 5:6​

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,​

    for they will be filled.​

The blessing that Jesus speaks is that this hunger and thirst for righteousness will be given satisfying food and drink.  ​

Some people yearn for justice, but the implied promise is that justice will be accompanied by grace.  The world does not need any more suffering, so justice is not enough​ to make things right.​

The promise is that this hunger and thirst will be fulfilled.​  I believe that some of this desire can be fulfilled in this life, but the primary hope is that all of these issues will be corrected in the life to come.  We look forward to a day when we will​

not be threatened or damaged by the sins of others.​  This promise will not be completely fulfilled until we are in God’s kingdom,  but the thought of that future life is comforting.​

But this is still looking at this text with a limited view.​

We may hunger and thirst for righteous treatment at the hands of others, but we should also desire righteousness to live within us.​  If I could only hunger and thirst for my own righteousness, I would be less likely to cause pain and suffering in others.​  If I could hunger and thirst for righteousness in myself, the whole world might benefit (even if only just a little bit.)​

It is not enough to complain at the ill treatment that we have received at the hands of others, but we need to take thought and care about the ways people suffer because of​ things we have done or failed to do.​

Nearly everyone hungers and thirsts for righteousness in others, but what will it take for us to hunger and thirst for our own righteousness?​

We do not earn salvation, but we do good to show our thanks for salvation and the other signs of God’s love.​

A person who complains of mistreatment are justified to do so, but it would be better if we all strived to be more loving, less greedy, and part of the solution.​

It will be satisfying when our hunger and thirst is assuaged and satisfied.​

It is more satisfying to help relieve this hunger and thirst in others.​

Questions to Ponder:  Are you troubled by any injustices of the past or present?  What can you do  to ease the pain of one person who still suffers from mistreatment at the hands of others?​

Blessings,​

Pastor Rick​