A little joke written by John Bach:
Finally, after years of testing business software, I landed my dream job — trying out computer games. My first day at work I was listing various ideas in a spreadsheet program when my manager walked by.
He looked at my screen for a moment, then said sternly,
I’d better not catch you using spreadsheets on company time when you know you should be playing games.
Obviously, our joke and the scripture this weekend reminds all of us that we might need to change our perspective on things, every now and then.
Our Gospel is from Matthew, and this passage is often used at funerals, not only because we live in Mountain Country, but also the Beatitudes speak of how the beloved deceased family member held on to what was most important in their lives and what made them truly successful in life. If we polled 100 people out on Main Street in Littleton and asked them, “What is a sure sign of success?” What do you think they would say? Most likely they will say things like: a college education, a family, a big house, lots of money or power, a state championship, etc. In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes a very different kind of success, that of a disciple. He speaks of attitudes, behaviors, and actions that exhibit a different kind of power.
Jesus comes to a resting place alongside a mountain, where he can sit down, but on higher ground, where he can instruct not only his disciples, but the crowds of people that just wanted to hear him speak. Jesus offers them some human experiences that he had experienced and wanted them to know that if they did as well, that they would be “Blessed”. Trust me, the people did not feel like God even knew that they existed. Yet, Jesus tells them that if they find life hard and burdensome in the here and now, how different, and better it will be within the Kingdom of God. Instead of Blessed, think about the word being Fortunate.
Worldly success, no matter how wealthy or powerful a person is, does not bring peace of mind or of the heart. To be in the right place might seem strange if we are experiencing mourning, meekness, hungering for justice, in need of mercy, having a pure heart, and/or striving for peace. In this world, it is as good as it gets. In the kingdom of heaven, there is a lot more to come. It brings the symbol of the cross to a whole new level of understanding!
Jesus encourages us to keep making the right choices, the moral choices — in our relationships, conversations, and actions. That is not always an easy thing to do.
This weekend we celebrate “All Saints”, and we should be encouraged by those who have gone before us, who now rejoice in the heavenly kingdom. Our saints are cheering us on, lifting us up by their faithfulness and helping us by their prayers. Remember, when humans die, they do not change into angels, but rather, hopefully have become members of the Communion of Saints in the Holy Kingdom of God. Angels are created by God, and have souls, minds, and free will.
All of us might have a favorite saint, possibly it is the name that we chose for our confirmation. Think about what that saint is popular for, and then think of how hard their lives might have been. Because of their example, how “Blessed” or “Fortunate” we are for not only knowing of them, but also trying to imitate them.
We now head into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where we will gather with people of every nation, race, people, and tongue — seeking in the Eucharist the strength to live the Beatitudes!