Donald Trump’s presidency has started in the most surprising manner for the world of politics; he has actually began to implement the policies he promised he would on the campaign trail! His signing of executive orders are based on the platform he laid out and yet the fact he has carried through on his word has caught everyone by surprise. However the fact that these policies are hurting the weakest in the world brings shame upon his embryonic presidency. To quote St Paul in 1 Corinthians, “God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong”.
The Beatitudes that Jesus sets out in the Sermon on the Mount offer a different set of executive orders at the beginning of a very different reign. They present a list of blessings and promises to a range of people from the merciful to the peacemakers, the meek to those who hunger for righteousness, the mourners to the poor in spirit. It is a collection that provides comfort and challenge at the same time and is aspirational and yet achievable. Most of all it is an inclusive list, created out of love for the individual whoever they are.
Jesus makes no discrimination in his blessings beyond the realm of the heart. Gender, creed or nationality make no difference to the promises that he makes. The dignity and respect for the person is held in the utmost regard and the choice is left to us whether we claim the blessing or pass it by. We are offered a choice of whether we want to show mercy to those in need or to close our doors to them; to hunger and thirst for righteousness or to turn a blind eye.
However the moral high ground that is being taken is a dangerous place to be. There is a saying that suggests the things we dislike most in other people is what we dislike most about ourselves. Trump has held up a mirror to us and the outpouring of anger needs to be paid attention to. We may not build physical walls to keep people out of our country, but what about in our hearts? Do we have a personal list of those who are not allowed in? Have we built walls to protect ourselves from whom we consider to be undesirable?
Every time we walk past a homeless person on the street and fail to act, we lay a brick. When we fail to stick up for the person that is picked on at our work because it is easier to say nothing, another brick is laid. When we do not try to make peace when two friends are arguing because we don’t want to take sides or read a news story about horrendous suffering and forget about it a minute later, we put an another brick down. Each brick protects us from the guilt we feel, blocking out the compassion that flows naturally in us,. The more we do it, the easier it becomes until we are able to freely and without remorse say no to the needs of others.
Yet this will only result in our hearts being cut off from everyone, enclosed in a darkness that causes what is within it to die. It is the same for a country but more devastating for a heart. We need to be open to loving others, to let compassion flow out from us because there are those in the world who need it and we need it as well. Seek the blessings that Jesus promised to us; seek humility, mercy and peace; be comfort to those who mourn and welcome to those rejected; hunger and thirst for righteousness for all our brothers and sisters, near and far. And then “rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven” Matt 5:12