Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, November 3, 2013 (All Saints, Year C): Daniel 7:1–3, 15–18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11–23; and Luke 6:20–31 .
“Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.'” – Luke 6:20
Too often, I think, we are quick to turn things like blessing and sainthood into sweet, ephemeral kinds of things lacking any real substance or grasp on reality.
I think we think that blessing is easy and that those who are blessed have easier, better, less sorrow-filled existences.
I think that we bring children for blessings and come for them ourselves because we hope beyond hope that such a blessing will ward off potential suffering and the evil of the world.
And I think that we think that saints are especially blessed—in the safe from the realities of the world kind of way—and are therefore somehow freer to be saints (as though being a saint was some sort of unrealistic identification for those of us normal schmucks who experience real life suffering, who aren’t as blessed…).
I suppose we do this for a number of reasons…
Maybe we like our saints to be pure, untainted from the horrible realities of the world. They are somehow more worthy of praise that way.
Maybe we think that there is nothing “holy” in the world and so saints (by very name designated holy) don’t really belong in the here and now. Saints couldn’t possibly be covered in the dust of our daily lives.
Maybe we like to think what they have done is beyond us. We think that our lives are just too messed up and we are too simple or broken or trapped to live the kind of lives they chose; and therefore, we are exempt from even challenging ourselves to walk that kind of faith.
But, I think the beatitudes challenge our tendencies to distance ourselves from the holy. I think the beatitudes challenge our ideas of what we think is blessing. I think the beatitudes call us back to the earth.
Because in the beatitudes we discover reality being blessed with the holiness of God. We discover God’s glory peaking in through the cracks of our broken worlds and lives. Not in pretty ways, mind you. In the absolute soul-crushing reality of poverty. In the heart-shattering reality of sorrow. In the purely dehumanizing reality of hunger.
These things are not beautiful or easy or any sort of blessing at all. These things are hard and real and horrible. And yet, it is to these realities where God is drawn. It is to the everyday, mundane, difficult living that holiness comes.
And in the beatitudes we are called to follow. To find God, to find saint-hood we are not called to withdraw from the suffering of the world. We are not called to be stained-glass, dust-free holy people. No, we are called to seek the blessing of God by entering into the broken suffering of the world—to stand with our neighbor in poverty; to hold our community in suffering; to liberate our world from hunger; and to love even those we find unloveable. That is what sainthood is—to touch the reality of every day life and find God there.