‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ 
The interesting thing is that so many people say that they want to see God but they don’t know how. Here, in Matthew, Jesus tells us that those who are pure in their hearts will see God.
However the problem is often no one understands what being Pure in Heart means.
Jesus had made it clear in other places we have pure hearts when we put Jesus at the centre of our lives and treat others as He would and as He does treat us. It’s not about making sure we look good to others, or taking part in the rituals of church, or even being seen to do good works. No it is about what is important deep in our lives.
So today’s question is, what is your heart centred on, is it family, career, hobby, money, enjoyment, something else or as Jesus said – Him!?
I have found that when my heart is pure, aligned with, centred on, Jesus then I see and hear God around me and in others and when I let my heart slip away then I lose that sight.
 Matthew 5 8
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy .
The Bible is packed full of mercy, of undeserved mercy to boot. The Lord God shows himself time and time again as the one who loves beyond anything we expect, or have any right to expect. And giving mercy is costly, it means bearing some of the pain ourselves (but then just think of the Cross!). One of Jesus’ key teachings was to show mercy, given that the amount of mercy each of us receives from his Father in Heaven is always way beyond the mercy we manage to show others! But nonetheless, we are called to show it. And if you think about this Beatitude carefully, it is a bit surprising – it half suggests that those who don’t show mercy to others won’t receive mercy themselves. Perhaps it is can’t, not won’t!? Someone wrote, ‘The truth is, if we do not show mercy, we are unlikely to be able to receive it’. Put simply, Jesus taught that we should be merciful, because God is merciful to us. He always has been! Now this is not just theory! This is the first of the Beatitudes to call for direct action, not just about the attitude of our hearts (although that’s vital – for it is from our hearts that all our actions spring). So when we hear Jesus telling stories about forgiving debts, or helping the wounded by the roadside, we start to ask where can I show mercy? Certainly not because we’re better than anyone else, but because we know what it is to receive God’s amazing love and mercy towards us. And I would like to suggest that if you’ve not yet discovered that amazing love and mercy of God towards you, now may be the time! And after that, as Christians, we are called to ‘go and do likewise’ .
1 The 5th Blessing (Beatitude) from Matthew 5.1-12
2 The last line from the parable of the Good Samaritan
This week the church has been full of excited children from our local infant and junior schools (and thank you to all who have helped!). They’ve come to ‘Explore Pentecost’ – a series of investigations into why Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit is so important to Christians. And you have a chance this morning to join in those explorations a bit for yourselves! To be honest, I was a bit uncertain as to whether there was enough to explore! How wrong could I have been! The week has been a refreshing window into the amazing extent of the work of God’s Holy Spirit, now spread right across the world: The Good News that has spread so far and wide, the significant changes in Jesus’s disciples, the courage love and compassion the Spirit enables, the shared life of Christians, the sheer joy and hope (even though we often have to wait!), the deep peace that the Spirit brings in an often difficult world – I could go on! 5 people from Ascension also got confirmed at St Barnabas this week, committing themselves to being part of this movement of God’s Holy Spirit and asking for His strength to do this. You may long for God to work in your life too! Good, let’s long! And today, let’s all pray that we too may discover, experience, explore more of the power of Pentecost!
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
‘Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good’ – in this way St Paul summarizes his teaching on the way to live as a Christian in Romans ch. 12 (read it all!). It speaks of a hope that with God’s strength, good can indeed break through and win over evil. What a perspective – a perspective that speaks of the Kingdom of a King where our Father in heaven’s will is ‘done on earth as it is in heaven’  . We sing, ‘Saviour, You can move the mountains’  . And God himself, by the power of His Holy Spirit, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, wants to see this Kingdom come among us – particularly for those most in need (whose ‘very blood is precious in his sight’  ). The promise of Jesus is a deep satisfaction of our spirits as we see these things happen – in whatever area of life we seek that Kingdom, be it loving our neighbour, through an integrity brought to your work place, working for change in our community and society, or ‘just’ answered prayer.
 Romans 12.21  The Lord’s Prayer  Song: ‘Everyone needs compassion’  Psalm 72.14
Blessed are the humble and meek, for they shall inherit the earth Matthew 5.5
In the film ‘The Life of Brian’, set in Jesus’ day, John Clees plays the part of the leader of a Jewish underground party plotting against the Romans (a totally ineffective group always bogged down into inaction). Early in the film he and his gaggle of followers march by the back of the crowd listening to Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has just got to today’s line, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ “Harrumph,” says John Clees, “it’s the meek that are the problem!”
What do think?
What makes for a truly great leader, or human being for that matter?
Jesus described himself as meek, was known as humble, yet he was no pushover, indeed he has changed the world! He held to the truth of the love of His Father in heaven through thick and thin. Someone said ‘he was gentle in the face of their wrath.’ And what about us then? Do you need to push to get your way? Is getting one up on the next guy the only way to survive? Or does Jesus offer a different way…….?
At Baptism today we’ll hear the image of being clothed with the new things of Christ – 10 clothes are named: Mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, making allowance for others, forgiveness, love (above all else), peace and thankfulness. Which do you long to be shown to you? What in the depths of your being do you want to ‘cloth’ you? And in the end, what is truly powerful? As Christians we proclaim, these things are found in Christ.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!