What is the opposite of the Kin(g)dom of God?

In this week's gospel we hear Jesus naming both "blessings" and "woes." If you read the verses carefully you'll notice that the list of four blessings and four woes are mirror images of each other.


Blessing:

“Blessed are you who are hungry now,

for you will be filled.


Woe:

“Woe to you who are full now,

for you will be hungry.


That is, three of the four woes are mirror images of the blessings. Interestingly the first blessing and woe are not exact mirror images of each other. Take a look.


Blessing:

“Blessed are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.


Woe:

“But woe to you who are rich,

for you have received your consolation.


While the other blessings and woes are clear opposites (hungry/full, laughing/weeping, hate you/speak well of you), it is interesting to note that in this first one the opposite that Jesus is highlighting is not just the mirror image of the phrases. Instead, it appears that to Jesus the opposite of the kingdom of God is not hell, as some might think, but consolation.


As opposed to the poor, who must depend on others for their survival, the rich don't have to depend on anyone, and thus they are disconnected from the mutual support of community. For this reason, they have already received their consolation, because they believe that they have it all figured out. The kingdom of God, by definition, is un-figured-out. It is forever unfolding and requires us to depend on and mutually support one another.


This week, pay attention to times when you feel like you have it all figured out, when you are feeling disconnected from community, or when you are resisting the help and support of others. In these moments, take some time to reflect on why you are feeling this way. What would it be like to soften into the mutual support, uncertainty, and vulnerability of the kingdom of God?

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