David Bazan, one of my favorite musicians, has a song that every time I hear it I can’t help but think of these words of Christ:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matt 5:211 NRSV)
Here’s the song.
I think Bazan’s song underlines a different, counter-consumer reading to this text. Typically we hear bless as directed towards those who deserve it, those who have worked hard, or shown good Protestant work ethic, Bazan’s song shows the flip side to this. The unexpected graces to people who, at least in society’s minds, do not deserve anything at all. What if God really does bless “the losers.”