Then, looking at his disciples, Jesus said,
“Fortunate are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.
Fortunate are you, who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Fortunate are you, who weep now, for you will laugh.
Fortunate are you, when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of the people treated the prophets.
But alas for you, who have wealth, for you have been comforted now.
Alas for you, who are full, for you will go hungry.
Alas for you, who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Alas for you, when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of the people treated the false prophets.
Imagine this scenario. Two men happen to guess the number being drawn at the National Lottery. The prize is ten million dollars. So the two men end up with five million dollars each. A substantial sum on any reckoning. Now one of these two men is a multi-billionaire. The five million he won will add about one percent to his present worth. That’s peanuts for him. The other man is a ditch-digger for city sewers. With his backbreaking job he can hardly support his wife and five children. When people hear of the good fortune of these two men, everyone will rejoice over the ditch-digger’s good fortune and will forget about the multi-billionaire. Why? Because it is the ditch-digger who will benefit most from his lottery win. His whole life will be transformed for the better henceforth.
This imagined scenario (which does happen every now and then) can explain why Jesus calls “fortunate” the poor, the hungry, the mourners, etc. It is not because he glorifies these conditions. It is because these conditions will improve drastically with his coming because we, his disciples, will see to it that they improve.
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