What Does It Mean to be Blessed

 

By Bishop Brian Maas

 “…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”       --Matthew 11:5-6


 

“Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

That’s a pretty low bar, isn’t it? That if the idea of being blessed—being holy, happy, content, pleased—appeals to us, all we need to do is take no offense at Jesus. How can one take offense at Jesus? What could possibly be offensive about the Good Shepherd of easy yoke and light burden?


Well…maybe that’s not the part that Jesus thought would be offensive.

Jesus’ words in Matthew are intended for John the Baptist, who wants to know if Jesus is the Real Deal, or if the long-awaited Messiah is someone else. Jesus invites John to consider the evidence: all kinds of slaves are being set free. Slaves to sightlessness, to injury, to illness, to the despair of poverty, to death itself are set free! This is quite a list, if it’s supposed to be the resumé of the Messiah. But it’s not. It’s just a list of facts for John to consider in his curiosity about God showing up in the world in human skin.


And because these facts are rooted in Jesus’ presence, his very being, he says: “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Because through him, the world is turned upside down.

No wonder Jesus blesses those who aren’t offended. Who can take his ministry seriously and NOT be offended?


If I can’t count on the trapped and enslaved staying trapped and enslaved, if I can’t count on their position remaining unchanged, how can I count on MY position remaining unchanged? If I can’t look down on them in pity, contempt or even simple ignorance anymore, how can I know that my own superiority, real or perceived, is secure?


That challenge to the status quo might not only threaten me; it may well offend me—might just tick me off! How dare Jesus even suggest, let alone cause, such disruption in a structure and system that works perfectly well for me!


“Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Maybe I’m not offended by Jesus most of the time because I’m convinced he really is only the Good Shepherd of the easy yoke and the light burden; because I mindlessly assume he’s perfectly content to leave the enslaved and the entrapped right where they are, so as not to disrupt anyone.


But if I’m never offended by Jesus—and too often I’m not—it can only be because I haven’t been paying attention to him.

And ignoring Jesus is no way to be blessed.


Maybe this is the real blessing: to hear him in the cries of the oppressed, in the urgency for equity, in the demands for justice; to hear him announcing “the way things are” isn’t good enough, and not be offended.


Maybe. Just maybe.

So--be blessed!

 

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