You might have read the news this week that the government in Egypt, in attempt to deal with the protests and civil unrest has cut off its people from the Internet. This would seem to be an attempt to silence the voices of the people, both to restrict their ability to communicate with each other and also to restrict them from communicating to the world. I think that we need a modern day update to the phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword” because today, the pen is just one of the many ways we communicate and tell stories. The power of new technology means that thousands of text messages only 140 characters long and as many uploaded cell camera videos and photos can tell a story, raise awareness and rally others. This technology can have an almost immediate impact locally and across the world. The Internet and digital communication has made the words or experience of one person instantly accessible by millions of people all over the world. I think that Jesus would have found good use for social media and communication tools like Twitter. I think each of the Beatitudes from chapter 5 in Matthew’s Gospel would have made great tweets.
To the Roman and religious leaders of his day, Jesus was a rebel leader. And part of what made him such a threat was that Jesus was a great communicator. He spoke with authority and crowds gathered around him to hear him speak. One of Jesus’ great teachings in Matthew’s Gospel is the Beatitudes which begins Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. By opening with the Beatitudes, Jesus makes clear that he is addressing the disaffected, the hurting, and the mistreated and promising them that God knows their situation, hears their cry and will respond with blessing. But Jesus wasn’t calling people to mass protest to overthrow the ruling authorities. Jesus was offering them a new way to be in a right relationship with God. It was a more personal way of being in relationship, a relationship in which we could address God as “Father”. All the formality and ritual sacrifice of the one temple was no longer needed to please God or to show our repentance. Our “Father” could and would forgive us wherever and whenever we truly sought God’s forgiveness. Jesus was offering something even more radical and something beyond what either the Roman Authorities or the Religious Leaders of his day sought to protect and maintain, by opposing his growing popularity.
For us as Canadians, living in such a great country with many rights and freedoms protected and upheld, it can be a bit difficult for us to see ourselves as part of any sort of rebellion. But, there are still those among us and around us who need to hear the message of blessing and promise Jesus speaks of in our scripture passage today. And there those among us, who have already been so greatly blessed, who are called to be a source of blessing, comfort, justice, and mercy to those around us who are in need of it. What we do here together at church and through the ministry we provide to the community is a source of blessing and comfort. And by how we speak about our faith to our friends, family, and neighbours is an important way that we proclaim the justice and mercy of Jesus Christ. I can not help but be a little bit inspired by the growing crowds of people in Egypt, old and young, calling for justice and mercy and wishing to see that same passion be stirred more fully in us for the same justice and mercy to be part of all our works in our community and country.