Read Matthew 4:23 - 5:20.
I continue to work through the text of Matthew but my context for reading has shifted, having arrived in Kansas City for a an event hosted by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Consultation on Same-Sex Marriage. I will share more about this experience once I've processed it all but for now this may be enough: we are meeting in small Indaba Style Groups as we seek to better understand how the Church can respond in various contexts to the challenges of our day. Above all it requires listening. And we are very diverse, both globally and ecumenically.
So I am trying to imagine what it is like to read this or any text in that wide a circle. I agree with Scott Gunn in his notes for this day that the Sermon on the Mount is meant to be more challenging than comforting. For me the key words here are the call for the Church to be "salt" and "light" for the world. (Later, in other places, Jesus adds "yeast" and I tend to think of all three together.) The late great Krister Stendahl used to say that the Church's mission is not to make the world into a salt mine. But to flavor the whole thing. Light is the same kind of metaphor - there is nothing more beautiful than a candle flickering in the darkness. And yeast alone does not make a good loaf of bread.
So how to be the Church? How to be the Church as a witness to what the beatitudes are about, in an incredibly complex and diverse world? How to listen across ecumenical and cultural boundaries so that we are not narrowing the Word of God to fit our own preconceptions, but expanding it to hear the voice of the other?