Eucharist – All Saints Day – 1st Nov
The Gospel for All Saints Day Matthew 5 v 1-12:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.Then he began to speak, and taught 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 receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Are you a saint? How do you know? Once you are (or aren’t) does that go on forever, or change – perhaps when you die?
The word itself, “saint”, is pretty straightforward – it come from “sanctus”, the Latin for “holy”: so a saint is a holy person. Simple. But what-makes-a- saint- a saint is something that’s always puzzled me, having been (falsely) told as a child that “no-one’s really a saint unless their name’s in the Bible”. That was in a school named after St George, who (of course) isn’t. And then, a few years later, St George was struck off the list for existing no more than his dragon. Maybe it’s harder these days to be made a saint, but at least we know the people were real, and admired for their holiness whilst alive. Imagine the outcry if, after being so often spoken of as a “living saint” Mother Teresa had not been canonised (“canon” means list), once she’d died!. You may remember she was for a year or two called “Blessed”: the same word Matthew uses in his list of the sort of people fit (by God’s grace) for the kingdom of heaven. Not exceptional people, just ordinary folks, doing their humble best: simple saints who don’t stand out in the crowd any more than any who listened to that “sermon on the Mount”.
You see, saints aren’t made by Popes or by people, but by God, in his own sweet time. He fashioned us in the beginning, and saw that we were good: but then we took it into our own heads to be otherwise. Like family heirlooms in that “Repair Shop” thing on TV, that damage takes work to restore: but all are indeed restored because someone has loved them enough to bring them in for attention. Someone who cares about you may have done that when you were baptised. Or God might just notice you off his own bat, through all those “blessed” things that reveal your faith. Or maybe Christ collects us all up on the Cross. Who knows? What matters isn’t how God saves but that he does, as he chooses. Jesus tells us there’ll be some hard knocks, which may show your need and your history but give you “character”. You remain God’s collectible: he claims you as his own. Saints, therefore, aren’t only the grand and famous ones who have churches named after them, but simply those who belong. So, instead of polishing up your halo, consider how you really fit in through the words of the great hymn “Te Deum”
We praise thee O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting. To thee all angels cry aloud: the heavens and all the powers therein. To thee cherubim and seraphim continually do cry: Holy Holy Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth: Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory. The glorious company of the apostles, praise thee. The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee. The noble army of martyrs praise thee. The holy church throughout the world doth acknowledge thee:[ the Father of an infinite majesty: Thine honourable , true and only Son: also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Thou art the king of glory,O Christ: thou art the only Son of the Father. When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb. When thou hadst overcome the darkness of death: thou dist open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father: we believe that thou shalt come to be our judge]. We therefore pray thee, help thy servants: whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with thy saints: in glory everlasting. [O Lord, save thy people and bless thine heritage: govern them and lift them up for ever: day by day we magnify thee: and we worship thy Name: ever world without end]. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us. O Lord, let they mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in thee. O Lord, in thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.