Matthew 5:1-11 All Saints
Matthew 5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach 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 be shown mercy Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
What did he mean? Hebrew culture mourning lasted for over a week after the funeral with family and friends sharing their feelings accompanied by wailing. contra our culture where death is ignored and emotions suppressed.
Those who do mourn following the death of a loved one can know God's blessing. His inner peace when surrounded by turmoil. His healing touch when we hurt.
God's blessing is ultimately and fully to be know through Jesus.
He was an exceptional teacher and the Beatitudes are a well known example of this. But there have been exceptional teachers before and since who have been forgotten in time. If Jesus was merely an exceptional teacher he would probably be forgotten by now.
What made Jesus exceptional was that he is God and man. That he came to earth to show us what God is like, to live a perfect life and die the death of a criminal.
The reason that Jesus did this is that, on the cross, he who never did any wrong received the punishment for the sins of the world. Everyone falls short of God's perfect standard of loving God with our whole being all of the time and loving our neighbour as ourself all of the time. Jesus received the punishment for this which is separation from God, death. However on the third day he rose again. This is why Jesus' teaching endures and he is remembered. He is alive and offers a relationship with God to all who commit themselves to him.
We have to respond to Jesus invitation to follow him. Jesus outlined what this would entail in the Sermon on the Mount. It involves a renouncing of all reliance upon ourselves involving qualities such as meekness, poverty of spirit, purity of heart, mercy and mourning.
When Jesus said this he was referring to those who mourn not the loss of another's life but a mourning for a world that has rejected God and mourning for our own failure to follow God's ways.
A modern hymn expresses this:
"Come and weep, come and mourn For your sin that pierced Him there; So much deeper than the wounds of thorn and nail. All our pride, all our greed, All our fallenness and shame;
And the Lord has laid the punishment on Him."
Once we reach that stage we can know the comfort, presence and hope of knowing Jesus as our friend and our boss.
We can know that our sins are forgiven, an inner peace, and a power to live for God. We can also look forward to being with God in glory forever. Jesus mentions the prophets who went before him. At All Saints time we remember with thanksgiving those who have gone before us. Perhaps, especially, those we have known and love. Those who have helped us in our journey of faith. We can look forward to being with God and all the saints if we pursue that road of self-denial that leads to God's kingdom.