Note: Can we suspend, please, for this reading, the idea that luck denotes godless coincidence? In my use of the word “lucky” below, I mean it in the sense of “blessed” and “fortunate”—both synonyms of “lucky.” But I chose to use “lucky” because of its prevalence—we use it all the time in the same way Jesus uses “blessed.”
Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd made up of his followers, as well as people from all over Judea, Jerusalem and the coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon. Everyone wanted to hear him speak and to be cured of what ailed them. People with mental illness were walking away sane, and people everywhere were trying to just get a finger on him, because he was oozing power that was healing them all. [He was a real celebrity.]
At one point, Jesus found a nice level spot to teach from and he said, “Let me tell you who’s got it good. You are truly lucky if you esteem others as highly, or more highly, than you esteem yourself. This is the kind of person who matters in God’s kingdom.
“You’re truly lucky if you’re concerned enough about people to grieve over them, because consolation will be in your future too.
“You’re truly lucky if you have learned to harness your strength and power, and you don’t abuse your position. You will be the last man standing.
“You’re truly lucky if you yearn for and work for justice, because justice is coming, and you will get your fill of it.
“You’re truly lucky if you have a heart of compassion for others, compassion is coming too, and you will get your share.
“You’re truly lucky when you have kept yourself pure—not giving in to greed, lust or cynicism. Through these “clear lenses” can see God in creation and working in your life, and one day you will see him in person.
“A person who tries to make and keep peace is truly lucky because this is the kind of person who calls God ‘Father.’
“If you’re willing to suffer loss for doing the right thing, you’re truly lucky. You can be assured of your citizenship in God’s kingdom.
“For that matter, you’re truly lucky when people insult you, treat you poorly and say all kinds of mean things about you because you believe in me. That ought to make you jump for joy because, not only are you in good company with God’s prophets who were treated the same way, but you’ll be handsomely rewarded for your loyalty to God’s kingdom.
“But you know who I really feel sorry for? I really feel sorry for rich people, because money is their only consolation. I feel sorry for people who have everything they want, people who have never had to go without. A time is coming when they will, in fact, go without. I feel sorry for people who don’t take life seriously. Everything is a joke, life is a party. When the gravity of life finally hits them, it will be devastating. And I feel sorry for people who seem to have the perfect life—everybody loves them and flocks to be around them. You know the false prophets were celebrities too once.”