Reading: Luke 6: 17-30
Today is All Saints Day, a day when we remember the saints of old and the saints of today. We picture the saints of old as grand people, depicted in portraits. We think of the apostles, the early church leaders, the famous writers, and of people like Luther and Calvin and John Wesley. In more recent times we think of Mother Teresa.
In our passage today, Jesus speaks to his disciples in a direct and personal way. He tells them of times when they are blessed and of times when woes befall them. These two opposites run in parallel tracks in the first part of the passage. One can almost think in terms of heavenly and earthly. The blessings come with future gains. The woes come with trial and suffering. These verses imply the reward of following Jesus’ example and the cost of not doing so. The passage then concludes with words of how to love, pray for, and treat our enemies well followed by how to be generous in our giving.
Jesus is spelling out that the life of a saint will be hard and costly. It is one more way of telling us that to follow Jesus is difficult for the way is narrow. It is reminding us that to follow is to walk a road that will challenge our human instincts to be powerful and popular and self-centered. Instead, Jesus calls us to be with those who are poor, who hunger, who weep, and who are hated. He calls us to suffer alongside them, just as He did. By being present to those in need or in trial we offer them Jesus. It is through this presence that they are blessed.
We do not like to think of followers of Jesus as saints. That seems like lofty ground. But in this passage, we see that loving those in need, working to relieve suffering, and offering all we can is a worthy calling. It is our call as followers of Jesus Christ. Just as we look back on the saints of old as examples for how they lived out their faith, we too are called to do the same. We too are called to model Christian discipleship for those in our lives. May we each shine Jesus’ light today.