All Saints Yr C November 3 2019 (transferred)
Audio All Saints Yr C November 3 2019
Daniel 7:1-3,15-18, Psalm 149, Ephesians 1:11-23, Luke 6:20-31
We arrive back into Luke’s story after Jesus has chosen the disciples, and he sets about teaching them everything he can as they embark on their journey to Jerusalem. Jesus comes down from the mountain, stands on the plain, raises his head to look at his disciples, his friends, and begins this teaching. Luke has every intention that you and I will overhear what Jesus says.
And then, Jesus says blessed are you who are poor now, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. And immediately the disciple’s ears prick up, your ears prick up. Who’s he talking to? The disciples are not poor, the disciples are not hungry, we are not poor, we are not hungry. And all of a sudden the disciples know, and we should know too, that this is not about us, it is about people who are poor and hungry. In Luke’s beatitudes it is Jesus who has attitude. You will also notice that these beatitudes are not the same as the beatitudes in Matthew’s gospel. Luke’s seem much more strident, much less spiritual, than Matthew’s. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is clearly including those who are blessed, those who are on the margins, those who are disenfranchised, those who have nothing.
You see, you remember, near the beginning of Luke’s story, we hear Mary’s song, the Magnificat. This song frames Luke’s gospel, none of this gospel can be read without referring back to it.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
Jesus does indeed speak about those who are rich and powerful being cast down. "Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. These are hard words for us, as we sit here many of us have had plenty to eat. But, blessing, according to Jesus, far from being about material abundance, is to enjoy the regard and favor of God. And the God of Israel to whom Jesus bears witness reserves special regard for the poor, the maligned, the downtrodden. This God shows particular favor to those in need. While this may at first seem threatening to those of us who enjoy so much of the world's bounty, it also clarifies our calling to identify and help those in need, and it promises that God stands also with all of us in our moments of loss, distress, and poverty.
And this remains good news, it is good news because Jesus says directly to us, Love your enemies, do good to those who turn their backs on you, give your coat to someone who needs it. The good news here is that the heart of God is full of mercy and compassion, abounding in steadfast love. The good news here is that God loves every one of God’s children, and that God’s dream for us is to act in love.
We read these beatitudes on this All Saints Day, the day we remember the cloud of witnesses, all those who came before us to walk this journey of love, all those who show us what it means to be blessed. Because a saint is an ordinary person like you and me who is made holy, and also who is blessed by God.
We too are blessed to be a blessing. We are filled with God’s love, and mercy, and compassion, Yes, we can be saints too. The words we pray at a funeral, “Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light,” remind us that we are numbered in the ranks of those who are sinners made into saints, we are not perfect, but perfectly loved. And we are called specifically to welcome all God’s children, we are called to love our enemies, and we are called to bless those with whom we disagree.
Along with the saints we name today we too are called to bless others with mercy and compassion, with love and forgiveness. And on this day of all saints, we reaffirm our baptismal promises. We remember who and whose we are, we recall our identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. We vow to live our lives from that center, from that identity. On this day of all saints, we remember, we reaffirm, and we renew our courage and bravery to be witnesses to God's amazing and abundant love.
As we reaffirm our identity as God's beloved, we are renewed for the journey. This community of faithful saints, along with the cloud of witnesses, the saints who have gone before us, we are renewed by hope and blessing for the journey we take together. We call upon each other and God to stand here beside us as we follow Jesus into the world to do the work that we are called to do, and that work is to be agents of God's healing and reconciliation.
Thanks be to God.