Wednesday 3rd May Hope for a society where the poorest and most marginalised are at the centre (part 1)
St Luke 6:20-25
Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: ‘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. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.’
Recently, there have been news stories detailing British families eating dog food and heating their meals on radiators due to the cost of living crisis. It is undeniable that the levels of poverty and deprivation across the UK have exponentially increased.
One of the Joint Public Issues Team’s six hopes is for a world in which the poorest and most marginalised are at the centre. We want to see the rising tide of inequality and discrimination reversed. Whilst this hope might seem far off, this is the Kingdom Jesus describes in the Beatitudes. In today’s reading, Jesus refers to four groups of people who are marginalised, not just in Jesus’ time, but our own too – people who experience poverty, hunger, grief and persecution. In Jesus’ day, it was often the belief that these states were divine punishment for past wrongdoing or generational sin. And yet Jesus reverses that notion by calling these people ‘blessed’. The Greek word for ‘blessed’ here is ‘marakarioi’, meaning fully satisfied, regardless of circumstances. Rather than being punished by God, Jesus says that these people are the ones God loves and chooses. The world perpetuates marginalisation and persecution. God’s nature is to bring justice to those let down by the world.
This reversal demonstrates how at odds the kingdom of God is with our society. In God’s kingdom, the marginalised are at the centre. Yet through the ages those in power have proclaimed that the marginalised suffer because they are immoral or lazy. The reality is that it is often the systems of power and discrimination which perpetually suppress the marginalised in society.
In light of this, how can we speak truth to power about the marginalised? Could you raise your voice in activism or prayer? Could you speak to someone experiencing marginalisation and really listen to them? How can you bring God’s upside-down kingdom to your community, workplace or church today?
God of life, we thank you for the blessing that you are to us, for the people you surround us with, the churches we are part of and the power of your peace and justice.
Help us to look at our neighbours with your eyes, not eyes which judge, misrepresent or ignore those suffering today. May your kingdom transform systems that have suppressed people made in your image. Amen
Hazel Lee is an intern with the Joint Public Issues Team