Sunday between January 28 and February 3 inclusive.
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Read the passage at the bottom of this post: Matthew 5:1-12, The Message or Matthew 5:1-12, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
Click here, Matthew 5:1-12, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version of this note.
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "."
Matthew 5:1-12 is the opening of Sermon on the Mount. This passage is often referred to as "The Beatitudes," based on the original Latin word for "Blessed."
Presumably, this text is assigned for All Saints Day because "saints" are those who have been beatified.
But even if one is not part of a tradition that recognizes Saints, it is still worth pondering what are the attitudes and behaviours in this life that are pleasing to God, that are a cause for blessing.
Since All Saints Day is a day for remembering the dead, it is also a good day for pondering how it all ends? What are we to make of the mess that most living involves? Is God's grace sufficient for restoring our brokenness, our sinfulness? Is God's love sufficient for healing our hurts? Can we, and all of creation, ever be finally reconciled into relationships of harmony and peace?
As we ponder these questions, I think it is always a good thing to remember the words of the modern Saint Fred (also known as Mr. Rogers):
Even people who are good most of the time are bad some of the time.
And people who are bad most of the time are good some of the time.
Those we honour as saints have never been ALL good, ALL the time.
But thankfully, those who followed Jesus, at some time, have had some inkling of hearing these words and practicing them. Their lives inspire us to do the same.
Historical background information in this post is drawn primarily from Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, see link below, page 41.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce Malina, et. al., Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
Matthew 5:1-12 (NRSV)
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Matthew 5:1-12 (The Message)
1 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down 2 and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
6 "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
7 "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.
8 "You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
10 "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
11 "Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12 You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
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