“Jesus’ beatitudes this morning exemplify this great reversal. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the persecuted. Certainly not in the eyes of the world. But through the eyes of faith, to see the world through God’s eyes, we find that the blessing, the happiness, the joy of the saints is not something that can be predicted by the world’s external standards for success or worth or beauty. God is the champion of those who have not yet received their reward—who have not tried to make a name for themselves in this world, or who have failed to. Those who ‘cannot by their own reason or strength’ become saints.
“In the Middle Ages it was taught that these beatitudes applied to a spiritual class. The monks and nuns and priests who made themselves poor, made themselves mourners, made themselves meek, made themselves persecuted. But not ordinary people. Martin Luther disagreed. These beatitudes were not about individuals who made vows of obedience or of poverty. They do not describe a reward for obedience. They are a promise of grace for those who need it most. An assurance that God sees value where the world does not, or at least not yet.
“This was not some innovation of Luther. The great preacher John Chrysostom said much the same about the great reversal of expectations. ‘The one who wears the purple (the emperor) goes to embrace the tombs (of those another emperor had killed),’ he wrote. ‘He that has the diadem implores the tent-maker and the fisherman to be his patrons.’
“A tent-maker, Paul, and a fisherman, Peter, are the patrons of an empire that had them put to death for preaching the Gospel. Men and women who were of no account and no value to the powers that be are heralded as heroes of the faith. Those who swayed no power on earth reign with Christ in Heaven. The meek inherit the earth. The mourners laugh. The poor are blessed. The hungry are made full.
“Sinners are made saints. Not because they were successful, not because they were famous, not because they were perfect, but because they were faithful. Because they were perfectly loved.”
-from the Bishop’s sermon for All Saints Day