In these litigious days, fast food restaurants warn us of the obvious. Before biting into that deep-fried McDonald’s apple pie, we read, “Caution: Contents may be hot.” What looks like soft, sweet, greasy comfort food could scald your trusting tongue. The familiar treat is not harmless. It may bite you back.
The Beatitudes sneak up on us like that. These words of Jesus are so often quoted that they have become bland and mushy on the outside. “Blessed are the meek, the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the pure in heart.” We tend to remember the parts that reflect the lowest common denominator, the “Have a nice day” goodness of our culture, the parts that go down easy like apple pie.
Lillian Daniel is senior pastor at First Congregational Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a board member for Interfaith Worker Justice, and author of When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough (Jericho Books).