All Saints Day & All Saints Sunday – Year A

Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

“The saints are the sinners who keep on going.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

                There are three ways of categorizing saints.  The most traditional and biblical is that all the followers of Jesus are saints or holy ones (see Greek below).  We are not saints because we ourselves are so good.  We are all sinners.  But being blessed with the presence of God, the association makes us holy.  We might even want to expand the New Testament and call all people saints since all, not just Christians, are children of God.  Because we sinners are made holy by God’s grace, and not by our own actions, we are able to keep on going as Stevenson says.  Our keeping on in life often involves suffering.  The Beatitudes in today’s Gospel mention such sufferings like being poor, mourning, hungering and thirsting and being persecuted.  This happens because the world often praises dead saints and persecutes living ones.  Nevertheless, Jesus calls these suffering people happy even in this life (see Greek below).  This is a paradox that can exist only in God’s upside down world.  Another category of saints is that of those special people from ages past who are placed on the calendar of saints and are held up for the world to emulate, people like Francis of Assisi or Lady Julian the city Anchorite of Norwich.  But let us not forget that each and every one of us is called to be extraordinary even if history does not remember us.  We can be extraordinary mothers, astonishing farmers, amazing nurses, outstanding grocery clerks, exceptional bankers, stupendous bakers, dazzling car dealers, or marvelous CPA’s.  Those on the calendar are not an exclusive group.  They are simply the ones history remembers.  Thirdly, there are saints not yet born, those still to come.  God is not bound by our time sequence issues.  Right now God is gracing these people not yet born into sainthood, into holiness, into blessedness, into happiness.  All three together, those from the past, those of us alive now, and those yet to come, we call the communion of saints


                Most translations of the Beatitudes use the word “blessed.”  The Greek word used here also means happy, not in a giddy sense, but more like joy.  The grammar of the Greek uses the present tense, thereby saying that these are blessed or happy right now in the midst of suffering.

                The Greek word used in the New Testament which is translated “saints” literally means holy ones.


Happy keepers on,

sinners by God made holy,

graced into sainthood.