Leveling the playing field
I’m not a fan of the Olympics. Despite the claim that the Olympics exist to foster a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play, there is an unavoidable discrepancy between that idealistic goal, and the reality of the on-the-field competition.
Which, of course, is a reflection of our world outside of the idealized vision of Olympic sport, as well. Abundance leads to, or, worse, is an indication of success. Lack of abundance often results in a condemnation of effort or ability. In Jesus’ time, they would have said that abundance indicates God’s blessings in life, and poverty indicates a lack of God’s favor.
So in the Sermon on the Plain, in the famous “Blessings and Woes” section, Jesus turns that upside-down. Or at least, he seems to.
But I think it’s fairer to say that he turns it… on its side.