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22nd June: Beatitudes (9) -- For the Sake of Righteousness

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

'Righteousness' is not a good word. Indeed it is often used as a pejorative about a person's character. Absolute integrity, purity, a selfless disregard for oneself and a love which seeks nothing in return are the components of righteousness. A character displaying such moral qualities may attract some people and repel others. Those who are repelled usually react by intolerance, opposition, persecution. Jesus was a realist and experienced both reactions in full measure. It is worth considering why Jesus linked personal morality ('righteousness') with something with social/political overtones (the 'kingdom of heaven'). An individual's personal morality is often connected with national security in Biblical stories, especially in the Old Testament. Here Jesus promises that these moral qualities actually are the moral constituents of a new society -- the kingdom of heaven. So the family, the hospital, the community where Christ's moral standards are the norm of human relationships really is the kingdom of heaven. Our practical aim in life is nothing less than to be part of such an amazing new society.

Help us, Lord, to understand and to practise what makes
for true righteousness, and to be prepared to suffer for its sake.

Further reading: 1 Pet 3:13-18.


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