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“The Beatitudes”

This week, I looked up the gun violence archive and was shocked. There was no mass shooting on January 25. I thought it must be a delay in updating the information, or maybe someone made a mistake, so I waited and checked again in the afternoon—still no new information. So I concluded that there was no mass shooting in the U.S. on January 25. Amazing.

In the first 24 days of 2023, there have been 40 mass shootings in the U.S. in 17 days, with 73 dead and 165 injured. There were only seven safe days in the U.S. With these kinds of odds. I would not recommend we go to Vegas or tracks, not even to cross the street.

The mass shootings happened in 18 states and the District of Columbia; 10 states voted Republican, and eight states and D.C. voted Democratic in the 2022 election. Thirty-four people were killed in “red” states, and 37 were killed in “blue” states. I guess the only bi-partisan thing we do as a nation is killing people in mass shootings. Hatred and insanity are shared across the aisle in congress.

One crazy number that jumped out at me was that on

five days, we had one mass shooting; on four days, we had two mass shootings; on five days, we had three mass shootings; on one day, we had four mass shootings, and on one day we had six mass shootings. Think about this. We began the year with six MASS SHOOTINGS in five different states. This does not bode well for 2023.

As of noon, January 26, in the first 25 ½ days of 2023, in the U.S., 3,042 people have been killed by guns, and 2,270 people were wounded by gunfire. If people die by guns at the same rate for the rest of the year, 43,343 lives will be lost, but some would see it as good news because 44,292 lives were lost to guns in 2022. How sad is it that 43,343 lives needlessly lost are an improvement?

In the shadow of these frequent mass shootings and deaths by guns, we will look at Jesus’ teachings on our attitude toward life, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The Beatitudes are built around the Hebrew word esher and Greek word makarios which are usually translated as happy or blessed.

In Hebrew, esher is an interjection, such as “o happiness, blessedness,” to describe the concept of divine approval or passing on people receiving some special divine dispensation. The concept of being blessed was based on being aligned with divine will for a human experience, which resulted in divine approval.

In Greek Makarios is also an interjection but is usually tied to the name of God, “blessed God,” or human experience based on divine dispensation, “blessed hope.” The human emotion of receiving divine dispensation is expressed as “happy” because the person’s state or experience is based on being approved by God.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches that the person who is blessed or happy are the ones who live with the attitude that aligns with God: humility, peace, and mercy. The attitude of God’s people is to be patient and not seek revenge; the Beatitudes make clear that our trust is in God and not in our ability to claim power over someone else.

As I have reflected on mass shootings, it is clear that the intent of these murders is not humility. They are not seeking peace. They are not demonstrating mercy. They are claiming power over someone else in revenge because they think someone has done them wrong.

The question then becomes, “Where is the Church?” I am sad to say that it seems that the conservative NOT-christians are not living by the Bible teachings of Jesus but are being guided by the powers of evils of this world. The idea that we need more guns to protect ourselves from guns is as insane as it gets, but there are preachers who are telling their members to bring guns to worship to protect themselves, assuming it is from other parishioners. I guess they are planning duels in the center aisle.

They are not teaching “Love your neighbors,” but they are teaching “Fear your neighbors.” They are not teaching, “perfect love cast out fear,” but they are teaching, “assault weapons cast our fear.” They are not teaching, “blessed are the peacemakers,” but they are teaching, “blessed are those who kill others first.”

Let us be the people of God and work for a constitutional amendment to remove gun rights for the sake of Christian faith in Jesus.

Pastor Sunny

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