Jesus lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." (Lk 6.20)

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 5.10)

These passages came up in our discussion Tuesday night (which was our best yet). One of the men argued that these pointed to "negations" (setbacks?) of kingdom life, that the kingdom ultimately overcame. But I insisted that this voluntary endurance of poverty and persecution was part of kingdom life, central to the experience of the kingdom of God here and now. So we should expect these and not shy away from them. And we should also question ourselves if we have side-stepped them, fearfully stepping back from the invitation into God's kingdom.

I chose these beatitudes specifically, because while all the others speak of some future fulfilment, these both speak in the present tense. "Blessed are you... for yours is the kingdom of God." And Jesus' own life also demonstrated that these are part of the kingdom experience now. I think part of it is being able to experience this blessedness right in the midst of the things that make most people miserable.

Next week we're starting another book, Robert Inchausti's Subversive Orthodoxy: Outlaws, Revolutionaries, And Other Christians In Disguise. And I chose some readings to go with it, from the authors being studied in the book. Two readings, from Kierkegaard and Chesterton, highlight ways that voluntary poverty contribute to kingdom life: in nurturing a "sublime dependence" on God; and in our willingness to invite all (especially the most vulnerable) to come to us. Like Jesus did.