"he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said..."

And Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases...

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven...

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again...

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High..." (Lk 6.17-35)

After coming across this passage a few days ago, I wrote this e-mail to a friend:
Thanks for being so open about your personal stories. It sounds like you both have had deep and important (and extremely difficult) experiences that could be very useful in helping others who are confused and in need of spiritual healing.

There are several people here on the farm who have had very hard family upbringings (or divorces, etc) and who now use their own struggles and healing to help others going through similar painful hardships. The folks we are currently living with often talk of their long path of emotional healing. And of the people they're currently trying to help, who are in some pretty terrible situations.

The usual focus in these cases is to try to restore the person to basic emotional health and restore their ability to relate well with others. Basically get them back to normal. I wonder at times how the radical call of Jesus fits in with that goal, whether very wounded people are ready for the extreme, revolutionary life that Jesus offers, when most "healthy" people find it so difficult to embrace. Or maybe the most broken people are more ready, I don't know. I'm trying to figure that out. I wouldn't want to present people (on retreats here, for example) with ideals and goals that are so high that it just ends up frustrating and depressing them. But, then again, it seems like Jesus preached to the most down and out, the most needy, the most broken people, and he didn't hold anything back. He presented the highest vision of the kingdom of God and called them too (or them especially) to follow him on the extreme path he was walking.

I'm not sure. Any thoughts?

My friend seemed to think that we shouldn't hold back Jesus' more radical teaching because we think a person is too weak or broken for it, since Jesus himself didn't hold back. At least not with his followers. For outsiders he offered only cryptic sayings and parables, but he hid nothing from his disciples. And this is not just the twelve; that sermon from Luke was to "a great crowd of his disciples," including the poor, hungry, weeping, hated and excluded. To these needy and hurting ones Jesus offered some of his most extreme and challenging words in all the Gospels.

My friend wrote:
Jesus didn't hold a thing back, He never short-changed anyone when it came to His message, no matter how broken they were. [My wife and I] think this is important. We think the radical message of Jesus should never be watered down.

From personal experience I can attest to the fact that at times (as a still-healing person myself) that the radical message is often depressing and disheartening, but at the same time it is the most powerfully healing message I have received.