Speech Preparation: The Sermon on the Mount
JESUS: Alright, you all have copies of the speech. Let’s start with my first Beatitude: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Thoughts?
PETER: Can’t do it.
JESUS: What’s wrong?
JOHN: Sounds like class warfare. Why do only the poor get heaven?
ANDREW: We need to focus on the middle class. They worked hard all their lives. They should be rewarded, too.
MATTHEW: And the wealthy. You can’t penalize them for striving to get ahead.
JAMES: Agreed. If we focus on the poor, it plays into the whole, ‘The poor only want a handout’ stereotype.
THOMAS: Exactly. They want heaven, but they don’t want to work for it. That’s how the Pharisees will frame this.
JESUS: But I actually say the ‘poor in spirit.’ That’s class-neutral.
BARTHOLEMEW: Then let’s be neutral. ‘Blessed are the poor, middle class, and wealthy in spirit.’
PETER: I like it. Big tent. What’s next?
JESUS: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’
JUDAS: Mourn… It’s very pessimistic.
PHILIP: Yeah, why so negative?
JESUS: I’m Jewish.
PHILIP: I know, but we also have to target the hopeful pagan demographic.
JESUS: I like the mourning part.
ANDREW: OK, how about this? ‘It’s Mourning in Palestine!’ Sounds much more hopeful. As long as we don’t spell it out.
JESUS: OK I guess. How about, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth?’
JOHN: Inherit the Earth. Another government giveaway.
THOMAS: And ‘the meek.’ Is that even a demographic?
JESUS: It’s another way of saying ‘the poor.’
JOHN: What is it with You and class warfare?
PETER: Let’s table this one. Next is, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’
SIMON: This is meaningless.
JESUS: I’m sorry.
SIMON: No, that was a compliment. Ambiguity is a gift.
JOHN: But look at the next one. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.’
ANDREW: Mercy? As in leniency? That’s not gonna fly.
JAMES: Doesn’t sound tough on crime.
JESUS: But we shouldn’t be tough. We should be compassionate.
JOHN: Right. I see where you got the ‘Lamb of God’ label.
SIMON: Baa baa…
PETER: Knock it off. Let’s say, ‘‘Blessed are the fair.’ Has a law-and-order ring to it. Compassionate but stern.
JUDAS: But this next one, ‘Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God.’ It’s too pious. No one is pure at heart, present Messiah excluded, of course.
PETER: Let’s put it to a vote. All in favor? … Eleven of 12. The Beatitude passes.
JUDAS: I declare a filibuster of 1,000 years!
PETER: OK, the Beatitude fails.
JESUS: But he’s not actually filibustering!
PETER: He only has to threaten. It’s good enough.
JESUS: That’s… stupid.
MATTHEW: Not as dumb as this: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the Children of God.’
PHILIP: We can’t bless the peacemakers. Not without blessing the military.
THOMAS: In fact, looking over this speech, You don’t mention our men in uniform at all. You’ve got to do that, since You don’t come from a military background yourself.
MATTHEW: Ever since that ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ remark, 80 percent of Jews think You’re soft on defense as it is.
BARTHOLEMEW: That number is even higher among right-wing Herodians.
JAMES: We should do a mosaic–op with a military family.
JUDAS: Maybe we can work in how You’ll never allow the Phoenicians to get the catapult?
JESUS: Fine, I’ll cut it. Last is, ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
MATTHEW: Wait, You’re giving the kingdom of heaven to separate constituencies here. The poor in spirit and the righteous.
PETER: You were tired when you wrote this, weren’t You?
SIMON: We’ll have to water it down.
JAMES: The persecuted can have Samaria. No one even knows where that is.
PETER: Right. I think we’re done. Good speech. Nice and short.
ANDREW: Hold on. He needs a patriotic lapel pin.
JESUS: I was thinking a cross.
MATTHEW: Yes. Crossed spears. Powerful.
JESUS: No, crossed pieces of wood. It’s a symbol. For how I suffer.
SIMON: Wow, you really are Jewish.
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