I like meta-fictional narratives. In The Series of Unfortunate Events, in one of the books, a chapter begins with a couple paragraphs describing déjà vu. The next page repeats those two paragraphs, and continues the story. In Into the Woods, the narrator (who never interacts with the cast) is suddenly blamed for the troubles of the cast and fed to a giantess. And Arrested Development—that show is just full of moments that overtly wink to the viewer, like Henry Winkler’s character literally jumping over a shark, or Ron Howard (the unseen narrator) getting very upset when a character insults another by calling him Opie.
One of the hallmarks of Arrested Development is when a character will make a grand, hopeful statement, like, “It’ll all work out. This is the happy ending!” at which point the narrator will say, “It was not, in fact, a happy ending.”
I’m not making a grand eschatological statement here, by the way. I still maintain that God is Love, and in the end, Love Wins. I am saying that, for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks, we have been climbing up the Beatitudes, stacking them one on the other. Poverty of Spirit, Mourning, Meekness, Justice-Seeking, Mercy, Purity of Heart, Peacemaking—all of these are challenges, require an ethical realignment, and a dogged pursuit in a world that seems to want the opposite. And now, Sunday, we finally reach the top of the ladder! It’s all smooth sailing from here.
Cue the narrator: “It was not, in fact, all smooth sailing from here.”
This Sunday, we will hear that “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Persecuted? PERSECUTED? Why on earth would anyone be against those who are seeking justice? Why would anyone want to push back against the merciful, or the pure of heart, or the meek? What kind of movement is this—and what does it mean to say that the kingdom of heaven is filled with the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake?
We will answer this and every other question you could possibly have on Sunday. (Cue the narrator: “He would not, in fact, answer every other question you could possibly have on Sunday.”) I look forward to seeing you then.