Reflections by Rev. Leonard Peterson

After counting the racks of birthday cards, I believe the next largest display of cards for purchase are found in the “Congratulations” section. I’m certain the same holds true for those popular electronic greetings. Why is that do you suppose?

One simple answer is that you and I have a birthday each year. But in the course of our lives certain special events come along that we celebrate as high points, often one of a kind.

So there are congratulatory cards for engagements and weddings; anniversaries and graduations; new babies, new jobs and new homes; yes even for retirements. The cards can be spiritual or silly, but at best they mark the event as significant enough to call for a card.

Only God can congratulate us for living the way He thinks we should. This idea is at the heart of the familiar beatitudes that we read on this All Saints Day. Jesus is saying “Blest” or “Happy” or “Fortunate” are those who can look beyond the measures of this world to realize they are headed for a great reward in heaven.

So the poor in spirit, the mourners and the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers and the persecuted, the inheritors and those athirst for holiness will attain that goal. Even those who suffer insult and persecution for being Jesus’ followers have every reason to hope in God and trust His Word.

Who then are these people from all over the globe that we call saints? They are no more nor less than people who lived like everyone should but who did it better than most of us. I think we’re justified in adding to the official Church list the names of holy people we knew well even though there may never be a side altar dedicated to them. Some of them might even be from our own families. You could say that we saw them as “living holy cards.”

Once upon a time a Protestant minister came up with the clever slogan that these eight statements of Our Lord express the “Be-Attitude” in life. True enough. But equally true is the fact that if we wish to dwell in the “house of many mansions,” then we must make our reservations well in advance.

God love you and give you His peace!

Reading I: Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14
Here we have two distinct visions of John. In the first, 144, 000 are observed “sealed on the forehead” with God’s name for their fidelity to Him. In the second, an uncountable group from all nations wear white robes cleansed in the Lamb’s Blood and they hoist the palm frond of victory.

Reading II: I John 3: 1-3
This is an exhortation to the Johannine community that God’s love for them makes them “children of God.” They sing in response, because they believe they will become divinized. They also believe that God demands of them that they be as pure as possible.

The Gospel: Matthew 5: 1-12a
The famous “Sermon on the Mount,” encompassing the next two chapters in Matthew, begins with Jesus’ eight beatitudes. A beatitude is defined as “an exclamation of congratulations that recognizes an existing state of happiness.