Brothers & Sisters:
The Feast of All Saints is kept on November 1 each year, to celebrate all Christian saints, known and unknown. It serves as a reminder to us that all Christians are called to be saints. Paul, in his opening greeting to the Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2), as well as to the Church in Rome (Romans 1:7) makes this point very clearly. We note from the reading of those verses that saints are “those sanctified in Christ Jesus” and that they are “beloved by God.” We are all being invited to fulfill our high calling in faith, and so it is important that on an occasion such as this we attempt to gain some insight on what it means to be a saint.
Our selected gospel reading written in Matthew 5:1-12 & Luke 6:20-31, is the well-known passage which we refer to as the ‘Beatitudes’, and it highlights for us the comprehensive character of the ones who are truly blessed. We can spend time examining the various features of the blessed life, but I do not intend to take you down that road today. Instead, I want you to focus on the glorious outcome of those saintly qualities, and it is HAPPINESS. In an old and very fascinating book, written by Gerald Vann, and first published in 1945, his opening comment on the beatitudes is, “God made us to know him and love him and serve him and so to be happy.” He supports his statement with a comment by St Thomas Aquinas, highly regarded as a truly great philosopher and theologian of the church, “happiness is the end of life.” The word ‘end’ as used by Aquinas here means ‘the fundamental objective’. Jesus stated that the purpose of his coming is that we might have life, and that might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Abundant life, life to the full, is a fulfilling and happy life.
Some translations, substitute the word “happy” for “blessed”, so the reading would be, “Happy are the poor in spirit…. Happy the gentle…. Happy those who mourn” and so on. What we are to understand here is that these qualities, contrary to popular opinion, are the genuine steps to true happiness. One cannot find happiness by searching for it; nor can one make oneself happy by the acquisition of the things of this world; one is made happy by embracing Christ who freely bestows upon those who come to him the kingdom qualities which lead to happiness. It is not what we have, nor what we have achieved, nor how we are regarded favourably or unfavourably, but what we have become in Christ.
Here are some questions we must ask ourselves today:
Are we a church made up of Christian saints who have found real happiness in Christ?
Is this happiness being expressed in our fellowship and our worship?
Does this happiness overflow into our relationships at home, at work and at play?
Think on these things.