Today is All Saints Sunday and I will be sharing some thoughts on the opening teachings of Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount. He teaches what has been called the Beatitudes. So, here it is…
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the 5th chapter (5:1-12 )
Glory to you, oh Lord.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “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. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Praise to you, oh Christ!
Grace and peace are your from God our Creator, and from Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.
The phrase “How are you?” Has become a simple greeting, really meaning: Hi, Hello, or good to see you. People are not really interested in knowing how you are really doing. Unless, they really are and then would emphasize it differently with face expression to communicate the fact that they really would like to know about your well-being. In the same way, the phrase, “God bless you” has become a good wish of well-being. Often what we really mean is that we wish things would go good in your life. When our well-intended politicians say, “God bless the United States of America,” what they are saying is that, their hopes and wishes is for the well-being of the country. Which often is translated as having strong financial and social power.
The writers of this Gospel according to St. Matthew present Jesus’ teachings with a typical paradox. Those things that the culture of its time would consider a curse rather than a blessing, are those things Jesus is saying that bring blessings. Just as today, people then thought that the more resources you had, the more blessed you are. Then Jesus says something different, that we are blessed when being poor, mourning, hungry, even weak. What’s all that about?
The word that has been translated into “blessed” has also been translated as “happy” connected to temporary pleasant feelings. That doesn’t seem what Jesus wanted to teach here. I have to admit that it feels weird to preach on a sermon preached by Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. In the gospel according to St. Mark we see Jesus as a connector, a bridge maker between God and humans; in Luke he is presented as the savior of those at the margins of society; in John he is presented as the one with abundant and extravagant love. The Matthean community that wrote this Gospel according to St. Matthew presents Jesus as a wonderful teacher. He was gaining popularity fast and crowds of people were following him, but he went higher on the mountain to teach his disciples. We can also find what has been called the Sermon of the Mount, in Luke, but scattered in different places. Matthew puts it together beginning with the so-called Beatitudes and continues for 2 more chapters, thus emphasizing his teacher mode. In the Beatitudes he reveals a kingdom perspective. That’s why it’s different. Karoline Lewis wrote, and I quote, “being blessed is not just for the sake of potential joy, but also for the sake of making it through that which will be difficult.” End of quote. Those are great and good news for us these days. We are going through rough times in our world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet we are alive. We have been able to connect in ways never before possible.
We have deepened our faith and appreciate life even more. Today, in All Saints Sunday, we are reminded that saints are not just those that died as martyrs for our faith, our those whose example we follow as worth imitating for what they contribute to the church in general. We are reminded that WE ALL are saints, yes, and sinners also, but, as the Apostle St. Paul said it in Colossians, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” And he is the one that makes us saints, God’s Spirit in us, not any good merit of our own. Dear siblings, may you continue to shine that sainthood so that many will give glory to Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen.
Let us pray,
We thank you gracious God, for your comfort during our grieving and other difficult times.
We thank you for your eternal love. We remember those who have died this past year. Guide us so that in meditating on life, we may give you thanks for all your gifts. Help us to appreciate what we have received by grace. Comfort us so that we may accept the irreparable losses in this life, and to trust in your promised resurrection. Bring comfort and peace to family and friends of those who departed before us particularly those whom we now name in our hearts…
Thank you for accepting them in your caring bosom and giving the rest eternal. As we struggle with this COVID-19, bless us once again with your loving embrace and protect us. For these blessings, Lord, we give you thanks, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray… “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the Glory, forever. Amen.
Thank you for reading! Until next time, stay with God’s blessing:
The Lord bless us and keep us.
The Lord’s face shine on us with grace and mercy.
The Lord look upon us with favor and give us peace. Amen.
+ Bishop Pedro Suarez
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA