As anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook or has been in conversation with me these last months will know, I am even more exercised about the condition of the poor than usual.  It led me to thinking about some of Jesus’ teaching on this subject and how it is presented to us in the gospels. I am thinking in particular about what are known as “The Beatitudes.” We find them in Matthew 5 and in Luke 6, but they come to us with some important and telling differences.

The first is that in Matthew they form part of what is called the “Sermon on the Mount”, while in Luke the same episode is known as the “Sermon on the Plain.”

A second major difference is in the audience for the words. Those at the top of the hill (you’ll see where I am going) hear: “Blessed are the poor (in spirit)”; those at the bottom hear, “Blessed are you poor.” The first in Matthew is addressed to people about the poor (and spiritualised), while the second in Luke is addressed to the poor directly.

A third difference is that Matthew contains eight blessings (beatitudes) while Luke’s four blessings are balanced by four woes, or curses. So Luke’s “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” is balanced by “woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”

OK, scene set, it’s off to deal with the affairs of the day. I shall return to this later with my next blog. See you then and thanks for reading.

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