Wherever Jesus went, people were clamoring to get close to Him. I wonder, were they aware of why they were clamoring to get close to Him? Yes, there were some people who knew He had healing powers, and they were clamoring to get close to be healed. But there were a lot of others, thousands of others, that would gather around Him each day to hear Him speak, to see what would happen. I'm sure for some of them, it was just entertainment. "Well, Jesus is in town. Let's go and see what He does today. Is He going to heal someone? Are the lame going to walk? Are the blind going to see?" For others, it was probably curiosity. Some were maybe skeptical, others cynical, but some genuinely hungry, searching for the truth, wanted to know, "Who is this man? Is He the Messiah? What does that mean to me? What does that mean to humanity?" And there's a line in this Sunday's gospel that-- it comes up a few times throughout the gospels, and it has different variations, but it always fascinates me. It says, "And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power, great power, came forth from Him." It's interesting that they knew that. They knew that simply to touch Him-- in another Scripture reading, we hear about the woman who believed that just by touching His clothes, she could be healed.
You and I go to church on Sunday. We have the opportunity to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul, divinity. What is that compared to touching Him or touching His clothes? And do we take it as seriously as these people took it? "And all the crowds sought to touch Him, for great power came forth from Him." When we receive a Eucharist on Sunday, are we aware of the privilege? Are we aware of that power? Are we tapping into that? Are we open to that? Are we even aware of that? Or do we just sometimes unconsciously just wander up there and receive the Eucharist?
The reading then moves into the Beatitudes, and Jesus begins to teach the people. He takes pity on them and begins to teach the people. He has this sense that they are lost, like sheep without a shepherd. And then He praises everything that is the exact opposite of what we spend our lives chasing. "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the hungry, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are those that weep, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and revile you and cast out your name as evil." He praises all these things that are the opposite of what the world holds up to us as life's trophies, as the things worth spending our lives pursuing.
I don't think you can read the Beatitudes and not come away asking yourself, "What am I chasing? What am I chasing? What's important to me? What are my values? What do I value?" And of course, the values of the Gospel, the life, the teachings of Jesus-- when we present ourselves to them with an open heart and an open mind, they want to turn our lives upside down, which, of course, is right-side up. But we become familiar. And so, the question is, are you willing to let Jesus turn your life upside down again this week? Are you willing to let Jesus turn your life upside down again this week and start chasing new things, better things, higher things, more important things? Are you willing? Are you open? How available are you willing to make yourself to God?