Saints of God
Today we celebrate saints, those who have gone before us and who may be considered living saints now. Who is a saint?
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus described people who are blessed by God:
Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“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. (Luke 6:20-25)
It appears that mostly needed people are blessed by God.
Jesus also spoke about those who were warned of judgment to come. Jesus said:
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
The false prophets of the Old Testament had the kings ear. They were telling him what he wanted to hear, and they were being rewarded. The Pharisees of the New Testament followed right in line. Jesus said of the Pharisees:
for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43)
It has been recently polled that Christianity is the most persecuted of all the world’s expressions of faith in God. How do we fit in? Do we hide in the current day secular culture rather than standing out as a radicle disciple of Christ? We may not fear for our lives, yet, as people do in other countries across the world. But we do have a cross to bear. Jesus said:
In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)
How we react to the world today will depend on how much we need for Christ Jesus, How needy are we? The adjectives Jesus used – poor, hungry, weep – describe a people who do not know God. They are spiritual words. This is ho people feel, deep down, when they are missing the unconditional love of Christ Jesus. Jesus tells us he fulfills all our needs when We seek him. But we must seek him.
The things we need to live in this world, God will provide. Jesus said:
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the gentiles who seek all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
The psalmist wrote:
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people
and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;
let them be joyful on their beds. (Psalm 149:4-5)
So how do we qualify ourselves to be saints. We cannot. It is God who qualifies us. The Apostle wrote:
In Christ we also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
Jesus qualifies us. Have we come to the cross?
I remember my first ministry assignment after I was ordained. I visited a hospice where some of our parishioners were dying. Thee I met an elderly Roman Catholic priest. He had been a priest of his church all his adult life. Since I was just starting an ordained ministry, I asked him what wisdom he could provide me to help me in the ministry. He said to me this prayer:
Lord, be merciful unto me, a sinner.
God promises us his blessings when are poor in spirit, when we hungry and thirsty for him.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live[a]
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)