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. [NRSA: Matthew 5:1-12]
The Roman Catholic tradition of honoring and venerating persons as Saints is to recognize that there are some persons who’s lives, and witnesses reveal God’s work and actions in concrete and remarkable ways. The added tradition of asking these persons to pray for them is similar to the practice we have when we ask our family, friends, and pray warriors add their prayers to our own.
There are ways that their tradition elevates these Saints above all the rest of us is one of the differences that are not helpful to us, but I ask you to look at what we share in common about the first two points: 1) recognizing God’s works in the lives of others, and 2) relying on others to share the burden of our spiritual journey.
The familiar selection from Jesus’s sermon on the mount, was shared on a hillside because no one building could contain the gathering of thousands, in the norther edge of this was a singular place that this enormous crowd could gather to hear Jesus without being in direct view of those who in the government or establishment would not initially come to interrupt or stop. In this very open, yet secluded spot, Jesus paints images of what the saints, the disciples, the followers, the church was to be known for doing with their lives.
The saints are all those who do things like those Jesus describes:
- The poor in spirit
- The lost in sadness
- the simple,
- those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
- the merciful,
- the pure in heart,
- the peacemakers,
- those persecuted for doing what is Godly,
- those reviled, persecuted, or defamed, for the purpose defaming Christ in your witness.
If the example of saint living is not for the exceptional example, but for all who followship Christ. The veneration of Saints by the Rom. Cath. Might be the ‘excuse-factor’ for us to not take this list seriously.
The Yoke of Christ is easy, when we share the faithful work with Christ who is ALWAYS faithful.
Think of poor example: imaging a sports team, let us say it’s a high school team, but one of the team members is a current member of the professional all-star legion hero of the sport, is playing on their team. If you take field or court and that caliber of player is on your team do you want them to help your team? Do you want to learn from their experience? Do you want to model their skills of preparation and planning for the game plan, or would you rather they sit the bench?
It would not be fair would it, but would it be helpful if your team continued to slip up, show up ill prepared, or failed to execute the plan as practiced and hoped? Sure, it would, but that is what it means to be on Christ’s team. Alone I would fail, continually; with Christ, is my only hope.
But Jesus is not taking the field with us in the way an athlete might, but there are those who are showing up in our daily lives that we have something great examples to both learn from and lean on in being the church. We rely on other Saints, and in the process, we are the Saints that others will turn in at other times.
The best news of the nine examples in the Sermon on the Mount are not a check list. We do not have to master the who list. Each of us, firming committed to know Christ is with us, working together as a collective pool, team, or church can do all things, for Christ is our strength. Do you see how these fits?
In preparing to cease the day for Christ we have cloud of witnesses both on our team, and those in training in the grapefruit league.
The saints are all those who do things like those Jesus describes:
- The poor in spirit — those who know they have more to learn, give, and trust in Christ.
- The lost in sadness – those who have compassion and will be compassionate
- the simple, — those who know our greatest wealth is nothing that world calls value
- those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, — not just the hunger, but desire with passion to know and love Christ.
- the merciful, — those willing to step in and bridge with kindness without praise or glory
- the pure in heart, — those who are not using God for their own power not to please others
- the peacemakers, — those willing to see options, look for the doors in the wall, those with hope.
- those persecuted for doing what is Godly, — know all this is not easy, but willing to trust with it is inconvenient or we are not rewards nor respected by the world for our trusting God.
- those reviled, persecuted, or defamed, for the purpose defaming Christ in your witness. – basically the same as the one before.
Here is where we need to see Christ at work in others. It inspires our faith and journey. Witnesses for us
It reminds us that we are called to inspire others with our faith and journey. Witnesses for others.
Today we remember those who have died this year, members, non-members, who have been spiritual role models for our faith, and for our world..
Today we remember that we are not waiting to be seen and names as witnesses, we are on Christ’s team and need to know that all this is not only possible, but is the fulfillment of what it means to be the church. We are on the same team. We don’t have time nor energy to listen to a world that would divide us. We are called to be at Christ’s table, on Christ’s team, in Christ’s fellowship, we are living body of Christ for the sake of the world.
As we look around all the fruit of 2020, we can see that we have not been faithful to the task. We need to 1) Repent , admit we have not been faith 2) Affirm/Reaffirm Christ in us, 3) come to the table and quench the hunger and thirst of our spirit. 4) hear the words of Jesus and the witness of the saints and get back to being, FOR THE WORLD, the presence of Christ! That will turn the world right side up!
Will you come to the table.