Michael M. Burke, O. P., D. Min.
The Beatitudes And Teenagers
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 It is widely held that although Luke explicitly says in v 20a that Jesus is speaking to his disciples, he cannot be addressing these same disciples in 6:24, for they are hardly ‘rich.’  The Lucan Jesus must be addressing rich people, who are not present to hear his sermon.  But the division between the people and the disciples is not final; discipleship must be constantly renewed through hearing and responding to Jesus’ word. 

 In 6:20-49, Jesus, the gatherer of the reconstituted Israel, preaches to those who would belong to God’s kingdom. Those who want to belong to the ‘ the poor of God,’ that group which acknowledges its need of his salvation, will become recipients of the kingdom provided they confess Jesus, the bringer of the kingdom. (6:23).   Put another way, although God’s fulfillment of promise in Jesus is an invitation for all to become ‘the poor of God’, only those who confess that God’s kingdom is effected by Jesus form ‘the poor of God.’ The rich are those who do not want to commit themselves to Jesus and the kingdom he effects.  They are content with their present, comfortable existence.  In 6:20 Luke is not extolling poverty, but praising the God who in Jesus’ kingdom ministry has a special love for the unfortunate.

 Luke preaching to Gentile Christians, some of whom are well to do;

‘Blessed,’ the Lucan Jesus is not declaring a social class blessed.  The blessed condition comes from and will come from the kingdom, which Jesus is effecting. 

 How would a teenager experience the promise of the beatitudes?

 When you feel less than, not important, passed over--then you are poor in spirit--needy.

When you struggle with studies and know you need help, all kinds of it, including God's help, then you are poor in spirit.

When you feel humble, little, aware of your inadequacies, then you are poor in spirit.

 When you feel or think you have to present yourself as having it all together, lest anyone know that on the inside you are feeling very insecure, then you are not allowing yourself to be poor in spirit and are missing the help God gives to those who know they need him.

 When you are persecuted and talked about because you follow the teaching of Jesus then you can find consolation in Jesus' promise that you should rejoice when you are persecuted.

 If you know that all people speak well of you you may not be as popular with God as you might think.  We all want to be thought of as wonderful, super, cool, etc., but Luke's version of the beatitudes says, 'Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way. 

Often we perceive our friends are critical, gossips, etc. Don't get discouraged, rather be weary when all speak well of you, that may mean you are not witnessing to any countercultural values, but rather going with the flow to be well thought of.  It takes courage to go against the tide and stand up for what is right and the values of the Gospel, especially concern for the poor and less fortunate.  True prophets are not always well thought of. 

 Pure of heart for a teenager is more than being sexually pure, though it includes that.  It is really deeper.  It means that you have a source of life within you, the Spirit, that enables you to see things God's way.  You make judgments out of your faith that helps you 'SEE,' God in the most unlikely places.  You can look on the unbeautiful, the sad things of life and SEE GOD at Work.

 As a teenager you can get in touch with some spiritual hunger and begin to realize that material things will not satisfy your soul.  We all need time for what money cannot buy: prayer, alone time with God, fellowship with other friends who are trying to follow Jesus.

 You will have hope when things are not going well and you may even be weeping. 

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