Thirty-First Ordinary

The Introduction 

Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is one of the best-loved passages in Christianity. It inhabits the ranks of great world literature, transcending creedal boundaries. If the teachings of Jesus could be shrunk into a dozen verses, these would serve quite well. Everything Jesus taught – and lived – is right here.

So what does this sermon have to say? Those whom the world despises enjoy God’s greatest blessings. Note that it doesn’t say what we sometimes expect to hear: that ‘someday’ the poor will be blessed. No: they’re blessed right now, in their poverty. And the people crying now are blessed. The kids bullied in schoolyards today are blessed. Those treated unjustly are immersed in blessings. This isn’t some form of spiritual delayed gratification. The blessings are real and immediate. Righting these wrongs comes later. But the blessings are here now.

How have you been blessed in the precise hour of your greatest suffering?

Join the saints in their blessed work of intercession. Commit to being a healing, forgiving, consoling presence to those around you.

The Scripture
(Matthew 5: 1- 2, 7 The Beatitudes)

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 and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said … ‘You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for’.

The Story – Saints on all sides

The humidity off the gulf made the New Orleans weather unbearable. The accompanying rain turned the outdoor dinner we had planned at the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant into a crowded indoor event. The presentations at the conference were lifeless. With only one full day left, I looked forward to my getting home.

I woke up that last day to sunny skies and a cool breeze. In short, it was a day tailor-made to skip the last talks and enjoy the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of the city. They led me to a small church not far from downtown where a traditional funeral procession was starting to lead the congregation to the cemetery. The music was infectiously celebratory. I joined the crowd and found myself swaying to the melody that dipped from deeply mournful and rose grandly joyful. We were at the cemetery gathered around the coffin in too short a period of time. Silence fell over us like a cloud as the priest began to speak, his voice a whisper at first and then rising. He ended by reminding us clearly that the deceased are now not just our mother, or sister, or auntie, or friend, or neighbour. The brass instruments started softly hummed until he shouted, ‘Now she is our saint’. The music exploded into ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. I’ll never forget the saint I met in New Orleans at her own burial. Honour a saint you remember today, All Saints Day.

The Commissioning

Go with the saints; go confidently!
We will pray faithfully;
we will care passionately;
we will face the powerful joyfully;
we will share in community selflessly;
we will shed light in the dark places fearlessly;
we will proclaim Christ risen, gloriously.
And God will go with you as you leave this place.
Thanks be to God!

GPBS © (2023)

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