(1) LK 20:27-40
Many years ago I was teaching this story to a class of 9 year olds in a local school. When I tried to explain that Sadducees didn't believe in resurrection (& you thought teaching the Resurrection was hard!) a bright spark put his hand up & said, "Fr. Brian, that's why they were Sadd-u-cee. Out of the mouths........! But he was right. Not to believe in resurrection in general diminishes a dimension, a possibility of our being. Sad. Not to believe in the Resurrection of our Lord is to diminish God as well as ourself. Sadd-er still.
The question these Sadd people pose to Jesus is a give away. Based as it is on Mosaic law & Middle eastern custom, it is almost entirely materialistic. Sure, there may be an element of care for the widow, but there's a far bigger chunk of concern for perpetuating property in the family / clan. Jesus, as always, sees through them, just as he sees through us when we play the same game. But he answers them, & wants to answer us, too, on a different, more 'spiritual' level. The answer he gives may make some resurrection believers sad, as he doesn't really validate some common (folk?) ways we understand 'going to be with our loved ones'. He doesn't say we won't, but what he describes is a bit different from a lot of our versions of life after death. We're not going to 'solve' this one in a sermon (do we solve anything in a sermon?) but it might open the matter up for discussion & renewed understanding: what, actually, do we believe?
(2) LK 6: 20-31
I still lean strongly towards the late great William Barclay's assurance that the beatitudes are really a set of congratulations, not a carrot of future blessedness held in front of our noses. Holding a carrot in front of a donkey sits too readily with taking a stick to its (our?) backside! (But see para 3 below.)
Note the major differences between MT's account & LK's. I'm one of those who think MT 'spiritualised' what Jesus said for the benefit of his target audience, whereas LK has Jesus 'going for the jugular'. LK reports Jesus speaking not of the 'poor in spirit' but the really poor; not of 'hunger & thirst for righteousness' but the actually hungry. Many Christians seem to base their approach to putting faith into practice on one rather than the other of these interpretations. Not consciously, I think, but it makes a lot of difference whether we settle for praying for the poor in spirit, or do something about practical help for the actual poor; whether we only give spiritual food to the spiritually hungry & ignore those who really don't have enough to eat with all the flow-on effects of that. Locally & internationally. I would rather have my spiritual poverty & my spiritual hunger dealt with alongside my actual physical needs. If this doesn't happen, no amount of special pleading will make me feel blessed.
In similar vein, let's take LK's (Jesus') woes seriously, too. The Gospel does have a hard, cutting edge as well as being all about love. Doesn't true love, agape love have that edge, too? Of course it does. Maybe, after all, blessedness is a carrot & stick affair?