Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When Did Jesus Become More Than A Name To You?, based on Luke 24:13-35, for Mountain View United, Aurora, CO, 4/27/2014 by Rev Steven R Mitchell

When Did Jesus Become More Than Just A Name To You?

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United, Aurora, CO 4/27/2014

Based on Luke 24: 13-35


        John Denver once said, “He spent a week one day in Toledo, OH.”  It’s a funny joke that speaks about perceptions, especially perception of time.  The interesting thing about perceptions is that over time, perceptions influence our expectations.  For example, we all would agree that time seems to be speeding up.  Not so long ago time seemed less fleeting.  Take for instance as a very young child the perception of how long it took Christmas to come each year.  Then once you were in school, how long those lazy summer breaks were.  By the time you entered high school, it seemed that those summer breaks were over before they even began.

With the change of our perception of time, our expectations as to the amount of energy we are willing to give to any given period of time also changes   As an example, with the advent of recording machines, which can record T.V. programs for viewing at ones leisure, I find that I am more frequently becoming impatient with having to wait each week for the next installment of a favorite T.V. program, especially if it is a program that has captured my imagination.  Like a book that one becomes enthralled with and can’t put down, certain programs on T.V. have the same effect on me.  I don’t want to spend eight weeks or so watching episode after episode, I want to watch it from beginning to end in one day or so and be done with it.

One such new series has had this effect on me, titled “Resurrection”. The basic premise is this: in a small town in America, people are returning from the dead.  The first to return was an 8 yr old boy who had drowned 32 yrs ago, the second person to return was a forty something father who had been dead for about 10 yrs, and the third person to return in this first season was woman just into her twenties who had died about 20 yrs ago.  The DNA testing of the boy matched that of the boy who had died 32 yrs ago.  With the influence of Jesus’ resurrection and the empty tomb, we would expect that the graves of these people would also be empty, but in this story there was no empty casket of the young boy.  When the authorities had exhumed the casket, the body of the boy was still in his casket, hence providing a part of the mystery to this story line. 

One of the struggles that is presented by the parents of the 8 yr old boy who returned from the grave, is that of accepting the person for who he says he is and appears to be.  The mother seemed to have little problem accepting this young boy as the son she lost 32 yrs ago.  The father on the other hand is the one who was having difficulty in turning loose of the reality that his son had died 32 yrs ago and able to accept what seems to be a second chance of being with his returned son.  By the end of the first season, finally the father was able to turn loose of the loss of 32 yrs ago and opens his heart to recognize that this boy is truly his son.

This series truly has Easter Sunday overtones.  I think this program is bringing forth some very deep theological questions that we as twenty-first century humans try to avoid.  Questions such as, “is it possible to come back from the grave”, “is there more mystery in the world that we do not understand and are uncomfortable with, that requires us to just accept on faith because it cannot be rationally explained”, and ultimately as Christians “how do we experience the story of the Jesus’ resurrection?”

One of the opening questions that Quakers often use in their meetings is, “When did God become more than just a name to you?”  When does something become more than what its name describes to you?  When does “life” become more than just the phrase, “go out and live life?”  The implication is that of perception intersecting experience in some way differently than previously experienced.  The same question could be asked of those of us who call ourselves Christian, “When did Jesus become more than just a name to you?”  For a Buddhist, it could be “When did Buddha become more than just a name to you? 

This morning’s text about the two men walking home from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus presents a beautiful platform for such a discussion.   Here we read that these two men who knew Jesus and must have been followers, walking home with broken hearts over the death of their Rabbi.  So grieved, we are told that they did not recognize the traveler on the road joining them to be that of their dead Rabbi, until they sat down together at the dining table and once Jesus gave thanks for their meal, they suddenly recognized that Jesus had been with them during their 7 mile journey home.

The key element of this story comes in the fact that they had already received the news that Jesus had risen from the tomb by way of the women who had discovered the empty tomb, but when they met up with Jesus on the road to Emmaus they did not recognize this stranger to be Jesus, even after receiving in-depth teaching about the prophets by him.  In essence the resurrected Jesus was nothing more than a story to them, until they sat down at the dinner table.  At the point of the blessing of the meal, suddenly something spoke to their hearts that changed a story of the resurrection into a factual experience.    When did Jesus become more than just a name ( a story of resurrection) to them – at the blessing of that meal.


Many of us don’t give the story of the resurrection very much thought, for if we did, we might be compelled to write it off as fictional, yet I would like to share with you how I have come to understand through this story of the road to Emmaus and how it has helped answered some of my questions of the report of the resurrection.  I grew up in the era of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, reading about, listen about, and watching T.V. news of the man Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.  I saw on T.V. the violence that was acted out by Rev King’s message of equality, I heard adults around me speak about the evils that Rev King was doing in this country, often calling him a communist supporter.  I also heard the truth of what Dr King was speaking about and admired him for many decades for his bravery and saw his murder as an act of the evil which he fought against.

Rev King was for many years a great man in my mind, but once I started examining my life and how I differed in my sexual orientation from the majority of humanity and how that difference had been used to oppress my spirit, I began to see Rev King as more than just a name.  I have grown to know Rev King as a great prophet that God has blessed America with, in my lifetime.  Like the two men on the road to Emmaus, I had experience through television and the community, in which I lived as to Dr King.  I had witnessed the news of his death and watched his funeral.  I know that he had died, yet Dr King lives today – in my heart and it is through my heart, my passion and my understanding that Dr King’s work still is expressed this morning.

During this season of Easter as a resurrection people this is the question that I think each of us needs to ask ourselves, “When did Jesus become more than just a name to us?”  For it is through that transformation that we are able to grasp hold of Jesus’ message about distributive justice, of mercy and of justice for all, of love our neighbor in its truest form.   It is what gives us the courage, the energy, and heart to share with a world that doesn’t understand these values.   It is what gives us the assurance to say, “It is true! The Lord has risen”!  Amen

Monday, April 21, 2014

What the Empty Tomb Provides, by Rev Steven R Mitchell, based on Matthew 28:1-10 An Easter Reflection

What the Empty Tomb Provides

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United, Aurora, Co 4/20/2014

Based on Matthew 28:1-10


Then the angel said to both Mary’s: “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you."

In the Gospel of Matthew, the birth of Jesus was first announced in a dream by an angel to Joseph, telling him that Mary his betrothed was with child, and not to be afraid to marry her for this child was the son of God.  This visit by the angel was God’s way to help Joseph accept the news that God was at work in the world.  After the angel’s visit, it was up to Joseph to either accept his invitation to be a part of God’s plan or to reject his invitation.  Now at the end of Jesus’ life, once again an angel from God has come to present an invitation to Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Jesus to become the voice of God by announcing that Jesus has been raised from the grave and is not dead.   Both Mary’s are told to go back to the disciples and tell them what they had been told by the angel and that Jesus was going to meet them in Galilee.

Matthew’s story varies significantly to the other three gospels.  In Mark, Luke and John, both Martha’s were going to the tomb with spices in order to properly prepare the dead body of Jesus.  In all three of these stories, the boulder that protected the tomb had already been rolled away, the tomb and its surroundings abandoned.   

In Matthew’s account, the Roman guards are still at the tomb and the boulder is still in place and there is no mention of the women’s intensions to finish the burial ritual.  Matthew tells us that both Mary’s were going to see the tomb, much like we would go to the grave site of a loved one to pay our respects, to be near our loved one, and to mourn our loss.  But Matthew tells us that when they got to the tomb there was a great earthquake caused by the descent of an angel of God, who once there rolled back the stone that closed the tomb and then sat on top of it.  The Roman soldiers that were there were so terrified Matthew implies that they fainted.   Then the Angel spoke to the women and say, “I know that you are looking for Jesus.”  In the other stories, the angel asks who they are looking for. 

There is a significant difference in Matthews story of the empty tomb.  In the other three gospels, when the women come up and see the stone rolled away, it leads to an immediate assumption that someone had been there over night and had stolen the body, which was addressed in one of the other gospels, as Mary asked: If you have taken my Lord, please tell me where so that I might go to him.  With the stone still covering the entrance Matthew is telling us in no uncertain terms that nobody has been tampering with Jesus’ body.   The tomb isn’t opened until the women arrive and it is the angel of the Lord who has opened the tomb, it is the angel of the Lord who tells Mary Magdalene and the other Mary that Jesus is not there in the tomb, it is the angel of the Lord who delivers the message of where they will find Jesus.

That in and of itself was enough for the two women to have taken off running to share with the other disciples that Jesus was not dead, yet just like an infomercial, but wait there’s more!  As the two women started back to tell the disciples what had just happened to them, suddenly Jesus met them and says, “greetings” and after a time tells them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee so they might meet with him.  So, as I read this story, I have to ask myself: If the women were already on their way back to tell the disciples what they had been told by the angel, why would Jesus need to appear to them and tell them the same thing?

Several things are going on here, I think.  First off, I think what the angel is saying to both Mary’s is “fact giving information – that Jesus who had been crucified and put to rest in the tomb was not there; He was not there because he had been raised from the dead.”  When Jesus came before them, the fact has now become a personal experience.  They didn’t have to rely on a secondary source, meaning the angel’s testimony, they have had a personal encounter with Jesus – they know by experience that Jesus is alive.  I also think we see a difference with the angel telling the disciples to do something and of Jesus’ invitation to come meet him in Galilee.

What is the significance to us who live in twenty-first century?  Science tells us that there is no such possibility of a physical resurrection.  So, if we wish to accept the story of Jesus’ resurrection as truth, does this mean that are we forced to choice between what science says is and isn’t physically possible, or that to believe in what the scripture is telling us means we have to throw science out and take scripture on a literal basis and accept it as physical fact?   

I think if we get caught up in those types of questions, we are missing what the real question might be.  The question that comes to my mind is, “What does the empty tomb provide?”  As I read Matthew’s account of these two women who are going to mourn at the tomb of their dead Rabbi, I think we are being told without a doubt that God is doing something extraordinary in our world.  Matthew starts out his story about Jesus saying that God is doing something extraordinary in our world, as the angel announces to Joseph that Mary is pregnant with God’s son.  Now at this tomb which holds death, God again sends an angel to announce that even in the tomb, there is not death but life.  In this story, we have been given hope that we too, when we physically die, will not be held in the grave by death, but also will be raised to life.

A second theme that is being told to us through both the beginning Jesus’ life and now here at what seems to be the end of Jesus’ life is an invitation to join in these extraordinary events that God is orchestrating.  Joseph and Mary both are invited to be an active part in God’s plan to begin building God’s kingdom here on earth.  Here again, as Jesus interacts with both of these women, he extends an invitation for the disciples to join him in Galilee, where he will be waiting to meet them.  But why Galilee, why doesn’t Jesus just meet the disciples there in Jerusalem where everybody is already gathered.  I think the underlying message is, that in order for the disciples to be able to meet Jesus comes by their acting upon this invitation.  The disciples have to do something; they have to go in order to accept Jesus’ invitation.  If we are interested in having Jesus as a part of our life, we too must take action.  If we are wishing to follow Jesus, he says that we must pick up our cross to follow him, and in that following, we die to ourselves, and find life in him.  I truly think this is the hardest action for us, for we by nature wish to protect our life, and the life that Jesus is speaking about is the very core of who we are, our nature, our ego.  If we wish to follow Jesus’ teachings, those things that create heaven here on earth, those “blessed are” of the Beatitudes, we have to be able to make room in our hearts for God’s desires and that comes only by letting go of inner self.

And finally, Matthew shares with us how we are able to let go of our inner self, by that personal encounter with Jesus.  The only way that we can truly know that Jesus lives, is through a personal encounter.  I think this is why Jesus appeared to both Mary’s, to give them the confidence that they were going to need to stand up to the disciples and tell them that Jesus was not dead.  I think this is the reason why Jesus found in necessary to meet with the disciples, to give them that personal experience of Jesus had risen from the grave, so that they too would have the courage to take his message to others.

I cannot tell you what a “personal” encounter with Jesus is for you.  That has to be a personal thing between you and Jesus.  But I can tell you assuredly that without this personal encounter with Christ, you will always have a little bit of doubt about the truth of God.  What the empty tomb provides is the hope of building God’s kingdom while here on earth.  It is what gives us the confidence that death and defeat does not hold power over God’s desire for life.  Christ is risen, Christ is risen, indeed!   Amen.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Discovering a Beatitude Filled Life, "Blessed are you when...", based on matthew 5:11-12, by Rev Steven R Mitchell

Discovering a Beatitude Filled Life

“Blessed are you when…”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO 4/13/2014

Based on Matthew 5:11-12 & Matthew 7:21-23


        I love Palm Sunday!  I love all the motion that comes with this day!  I love the moving around and waving our palm branches, the special music, and the use of video clips all of which makes for a special celebration.  It is the day that we call the Triumphal Entry, a phrased set aside for a king.   This day of celebration is the start of a chain of events that ends not in triumph but in disgrace and defeat at the end of the week.

          In Matthew 21 we read about Jesus riding into town on a young donkey, the streets lined with followers of Jesus waving palm branches saying, Hosanna to the Son of David!”  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  This of course attracted people who didn’t know Jesus or who hadn’t received the e-mail to come and welcome Jesus into Jerusalem.  Hosanna has become a word of “praise” over the centuries, but the original Hebrew meaning of the word was “save” or “rescue”.  So if we were to change these words to what the crowd was actually saying, it would read something like: “The son of David who saves!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “The one who is highest in heaven is the rescuer!”  When you put this with the tradition of how a king is greeted into the city by his subjects, riding on a horse along streets filled with waving of palm branches, you can see why Caiaphas and Pilate were concerned about Jesus and his agenda!  The whole understanding of the word Messiah in Hebrew is the king who saves his people from foreign powers, who makes Israel safe to live under it’s own rule.

        But this is not the teaching Jesus gives in his Sermon on the Mount; for his teaching of the Beatitudes does not speak to peace through force, but rather through having a poor spirit, the ability to give mercy, and be peacemakers.  In Jesus’ last beatitude he says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 

        In this morning’s dramatic reading, “Are We Clapping For The Wrong God?” there is a piece that says, “Today we are the crowd, screaming: He’s agitator,” at those who are speaking up for humane treatment of non-documented immigrants.  Today we are the crowd, screaming: He’s a revolutionary,” of those who advocate equal distribution of resources for all, that there is enough for everybody.  Today we are the crowd, screaming: He tells them to love God, Yet he breaks the Sabbath laws,” How dare the pastor and worship team, want to sing new modern songs and use instruments that you would find in a show tune.  “Today we are the crowd, screaming: He tells them to do good, Yet he dines with sinners.”  “Hey Edith, are you aware that the woman sitting over there is a lesbian, and that couple behind us live together and aren’t married, and see that college student over with that really weird dyed hair color, I’m not sure I feel comfortable having visitors thinking we accept those kind of people.”

         In the second part of the ninth Beatitude Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad {when these negative things happen to you because of me}, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  We in America have been greatly blessed by God with a modern day prophet by the name of Rev Dr Martin Luther King, and his courage to speak out for justice for people of color in a society of white privilege.  For me, the 1960’s have to date been the most turbulent decade that I have lived through, but life changed dramatically because of Dr King’s prophetic voice.   As the followers of Dr King readied to march in Selma, Mississippi in 1965 he said: I can’t promise you that it won’t get you beaten.  I can’t promise you that it won’t get your home bombed.  I can’t promise you won’t get scarred up a bit – but we must stand up for what is right.  If you haven’t discovered something that is worth dying for, you haven’t found anything worth living for.  Because of the courage of many who stood up against racism during the 1960’s, life is better today, when you think about Jesus telling us that the “kingdom of God is among us,” then you can understand what he meant in the 9th beatitude when he says “great is your reward in the kingdom” for it is in part the physical.

        On the wall of Shishu Bha- Van, a children’s home in Calcutta operated by Mother Tersa’s order, the Sisters of Charity, are these words, which capture the heart of all the Beatitudes as brought into focus by the this last Beatitude.  People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.  Love them anyway.  If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Do good anyway…  The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway….  What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight.  Build anyway.  People really need help but may attack you if you help them.  Help people anyway.  Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.  Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”  The Beatitudes For Today by James C Howell, chapter 12

        Today we celebrate Palm Sunday.  But where will we be come Good Friday?  Are we willing to stand up against the insults, the bad things that come with standing for justice, for mercy, for peacemaking?    We wave our palms this morning but are we wanting to follow a Jesus that the crowd in Jerusalem was expecting, a messiah that will save us from all the bad people, or are we wanting to follow the Jesus of the Beatitudes, where mercy, forgiveness, justice, and peacemaking are used to create God’s kingdom here on earth? 

        In the beatitudes, old barriers lose their power and old wounds can lose their sting.  In the beatitudes, we are revolutionaries to the world, we become the agitators of what is not right, we can speak the true word of Love, and dine with sinners and most of all forgive when we have been wronged.  By living a Beatitude filled life, we are on that donkey with Jesus, riding toward the cross that tries to deny God’s power in a world that thinks it holds the power.  Amen

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Discovering a Beatitude Filled Life, "Blessed are those who are perscecuted for Righteousness...", based on Daniel 3 and Matthew 5:10

Discovering a Beatitude Filled Life

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for Righteousness…”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO 4/6/2014

Based on Daniel 3 & Matthew 5:10


        This entire week I have been thinking about the word “persecution” with respect to: What does it truly mean to be persecuted?  My partner Paul recently recorded a series that is a few years old now, call “The Big C”, the “C” meaning cancer.  There are four main characters: husband, wife, son, and a live-in student (around the same age as the son).  The wife is dealing with the big “C”, the husband actually died for three minutes and came back to life, the son is struggling with being 16 yrs old and having parents who are literally fighting for their lives, the live-in female student is struggling with her African American heritage.  One of the common attitudes that I have noted in this family is that each of them is feeling persecuted in one fashion or another. 

The husband doesn’t feel appreciated or supported by his wife in his new found career as a public motivational speaker.  The mother with cancer, feels persecuted because everyone thinks that she is spending too much energy on herself.  The son is feeling persecuted, well because he is a teenager and all of what goes with being at that stage of life.  The young African-American girl is feeling persecuted because of her color. 

The truth is, most of us feel personally persecuted on some level.  The church in the U.S.A. felt persecuted when prayer was forced out of the classroom.  Teenagers feel persecuted when they are subject to curfew hours that might not match with their friends curfew hours.  The truth might be,  when we feel that we are not “getting” our way, we often translate that feeling into the act of being persecuted.

Yet is that true persecution or is it really a matter of our “egos” being bruised?  Is “persecution” really just a matter of differing opinions or is there something deeper in the act?  I would say, “Yes” and “yes”.  When one person or group of people feel their way is the only correct way, coupled with a sense of empowerment, you then have the formula for persecution to arise.

Persecution can occur as: victimization, abuse, torture, torment, oppression, tyranny, discrimination against, mistreatment, ill-treatment, maltreatment, and subjugation.  Now, there is only one population in middle-class America that I can think of where the majority of these types of behaviors occur and that is within the teenage population.   Honestly, can you show me a teen-ager who doesn’t feel persecuted? 

Seriously, when we read the Gospels, we read it as if it was being recorded as it was happening, yet Matthew wasn’t written until a generation after Jesus had died and it was written to an audience that had already experienced the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans.  The first audience of Matthew already was living under persecution.  They understood firsthand the reality of living under the power of a foreign government; they understood firsthand the persecution that came by following the words of Jesus, and of being ostracized by the traditional Jewish community.

We live in America, where being a Christian has no penalties, where we are not persecuted when we identify ourselves as being Christian, because Christianity is an acceptable religion.   So how do we “Christians” understand the perils of persecution as Jesus was teaching in the Beatitudes?  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Well, for the church in America, the identification of being Christian isn’t the key to this teaching.   The key is found in the word “righteousness”, that of doing right!

In this morning’s text about three young Jewish men who refused to bow down to the idolatry of worshiping false gods, namely King Nebuchadnezzar, they are persecuted for standing strong to their religious convictions of following their one God.  These men even though they were Jews, had been given great power by the King in helping govern Babylon.  It was out of jealously that the Kings court conspired to persecute not just the Jews but specifically Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Once the King discovers that these three young men would not bow down to him, in a rage he had them thrown into a fire. 

I think the lesson in this story comes in the reply these three young men gave when asked by King Nebuchadnezzar to change their allegiance saying: If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it,…But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.  These young men trusted God with their lives to deliver them from the tyrannical power of the King, but even if they were not physically rescued they believed so strongly that it was better to die following the law of their God than to give in and become a part of the system that they understood as unjust. 

We who call ourselves Christian in this country know very little about persecution for our faith, because the church in general is a part of the status quo.  By definition, one who follows the teachings of Jesus is called a Christian, and the larger body of Christians we call the Christian Church.  But, if you find yourself stepping outside of the acceptable norms of the church, then you might very well find yourself in hot water. 

When a Christian Church speaks out against the victimization of segregation, or against the popular tide of building walls along our boarders, or against the discrimination that says not all people in our country should have basic medical care, adequate housing, or access to upward mobility, then that church that is fighting for justice can expect to be persecuted. 

Back in the 1980’s there was an Underground Railroad movement by a number of churches in our country which was labeled as “Sanctuary Movement”, helping refugee’s from Nicaragua cross through this country into Canada.  It was an underground movement because our Government refused to give asylum to people whose lives were endangered by staying in their homeland.  Those people in this country who were helping in this underground movement based on religious conviction (based on their understanding of doing “rightness”) were being persecuted by various departments of our government in retaliation for their actions.  I know of several churches in the Seattle area where members of those congregations were abused by our government for what the larger Christian Church would call righteousness sake. 

That type of persecution is past history, yet there is a new Sanctuary movement happening today!  I was on a conference call earlier this week concerning the potential housing by a local congregation, of a family who has one or more members under deportation orders.  The conversation discussed what the legal implications would be for the hosting church as they provide housing for this family.  We also discussed how other churches can help in a supportive role with finances, food, clothing, education and other things that are needed for a this type of undertaking.  There are now three States where churches are becoming involved in this type of civil disobedience, which is legally defined if charged as a felony.  But because Immigration reform has continually been stalled in Congress, citizens in various communities along with non documented immigrants are taking a more radical stand in protest to the broken immigration laws that currently exist.

I bring this particular example up under this Beatitude because it deals with persecution in its most basic form.  I would expect a good many members of this faith community to be viewing this new sanctuary movement as fundamentally wrong because on the surface it seems to be promoting the issue of “illegal” immigration.  Then there are those who would be supportive of this type of civil disobedience because of their perception of what constitutes just and unjust laws. 

This is a very complex and critical issue and it makes me tremble to think that I was even on a phone conversation discussing such a topic.  I tremble because I wonder if I could act out in civil disobedience for something that I might in theory think is an injustice needing to be challenged.  I wonder if I could be a Shadrach, Meshach , or Abednego or would I be just one of the countless millions who would turn a deaf ear out of fear of being persecuted for doing the “right” thing.  It is in topics such as immigration reform, of equal rights for minorities, of how we view the natural resources of our mother earth, and many other issues that we struggle within our spiritual walk of understand “justness” and “righteousness.” 

Persecution comes at many levels, some in big topics like distribution of resources which include issues like immigration, race, sexual orientation, and the ecology of our planet, but many come in less obvious levels and are more personal.  For most people, I think, we want to do what is right for all, but the understanding of justice varies from person to person.  It’s the old saying, “Where two are gathered, there you will find three opinions.”  The truth in the eight Beatitude is of Jesus’ warning to be prepared when you are doing “righteous” acts, because the odds are, it will not be consistent with popular standards and when that happens you will be persecuted.   Right actions know no boundaries, but is a call to all of humanity to honor one another as brother and sister.  Amen