Blessed are those who are persecuted? Yeah, I know, there's more to the sentence, but just that opened of this Beatitude sounds so strange to my ears. Nonetheless, this is what Jesus says to those who are listening. "You are blessed when you are persecuted unfairly-- when you're doing the right thing." And why? "Because theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Jesus presents hope to those who are suffering, reminding us that, because we have taken Jesus up on His invitation to life on His terms, we now get God with us and all the promises that come with Him.
Even when we're in the midst of the greatest struggles, it's helpful to remember that...
Come what may, God's got His.
Peace? What is it? If you take our societal view of it, you probably have in your mind someone who's pretty "chill" and doesn't really cause any conflict. And, yeah, to some degree, it does have to do with how we handle conflict-- but it's so much more than the absence of it.
The writers of the Bible pepper all of their writings with this concept of "shalom" (Hebrew) or Eirene (Greek)-- it's the idea that things are whole, completely right.
And, if a person takes Jesus up on His offer to the life He's offering, you get "peace" like no other-- right relationship with God and the infinite possibility of right relationships with people. You get to be called a "son or daughter" of God. That's amazing. Because, on the one hand, it means that we get all the rights and privileges that a son or daughter would have; but, on the other hand, we also have this awesome opportunity to "resemble" our Father in heaven. We can be "chips off the old block.
And as God's reign brings peace-- we bring peace too-- because that's what God's kids do.