1 John 3:1-3/ Psalm 34/ Matthew 5:1-12
Blessed Is the Community of God
The Saints; Our Role Models
I am starting today’s message with a show and tell. These are some of my saints cards. This is St. Thomas Aquinas, the great early church theologian. This is St. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits. This is St. Francis of Assisi, who needs little introduction. This is St. Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to die instead of a family man in Auschwitz. This is St. Cecilia, the patron saint for musicians.
I like learning about the saints of the Catholic Church, not because I pray to them like the Catholics, but because they are role models for people of faith. There are also other great people of faith in history who inspire me. John Wesley, the father of the Methodist Church, is one of my favorite people of faith in history.
One does not have to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church to be a saint. On All Saints Day, we remember, not only the Catholic saints, but all people of faith who left this mortal world. Today, we remember all the role models of faith: the historical figures and our beloved ones who left us.
I brought the King James Bible that used to belong to my great grandfather, that he gave to my mother when she was starting her studies at the Methodist Theological Seminary. He was a lay leader of the Presbyterian Church and spearheaded the first Bible translation project in Korea.
I also brought my grandmother’s ring. She was a woman of great faith. When the doctors told her that she didn’t have long, she said, “I’m going to Jesus,” and died really peacefully.
St. Francis reminds me to not be obsessed with material possessions and to love all God’s creation. St. Maximilian Kolbe teaches me about making sacrifices for others. As my Methodist father, John Wesley was vital in forming my theology. They all inspire me as a Christian.
Blessed Is the Community of God
Today, as we give thanks and praise for all the saints who inspire us, let us remember our big family of faith throughout history and throughout the world. Wherever and whenever we are from, we are all blessed children of God. We all learn about God from Jesus, who should be our ultimate role model of faith.
Today, we read the quintessential gospel message that we call the Beatitudes. Just like the people who followed Jesus to learn from him, we also hear the same message of God’s blessings. We are blessed people because we accepted God’s love for us.
The author of 1 John kept mentioning that we are God’s children. We learn from Jesus that blessed people of God are poor in spirit, meek, hunger for justice, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, among other things. When you hear this message, know that we are a part of a really big community of God’s children who hear the same messages. On World Communion Sunday, Reformation Sunday, All Saints Day, Easter, and Christmas, we celebrate being a part of God’s community, the reign (or kingdom) of God. We give thanks for God’s steadfast love and for the examples of the saints who became our role models. As we celebrate God’s love and this blessed community of God, we “taste and see the goodness of God,” as the psalmist sang.
Jesus, Our Ultimate Role Model
But most of all, as we give thanks and praise for God’s love and the saints, it is our great mission to aspire to be like Jesus and the saints. We should aspire to be meek, pure in heart, peacemakers, and hunger for justice. We should learn from Jesus and our saints, and ask God to inspire and guide us in everything we say and do. Celebrating this blessed community of God that Jesus called the reign of God should lead us to renewal and transformation, to compassionate love and works of justice, to a commitment to live more and more like Jesus. Thanks be to God for this blessed community of God and for the legacy of great faith through all the saints who inspire us. Amen.