All Saints Day Year C
Celebrated November 3,2019
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Today is All Saints Celebrated; a time to remember not just the Saints of fame, but that we all are saints in the kingdom of God. We may feel pretty powerless in the face of the worldly oppression and dominance, but we have power greater than our worst enemies. The prophet Daniel foretold we would have this power he said, "The holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever--forever and ever."
What is the power, how do we get it, and what we to do with it?
The power is God's power, manifested in Jesus Christ, who Paul reminds Ephesians, was raised from the dead and placed at the right hand of God (just as we say in the Creed) to rule over all--no exceptions. This means Christ rules over all earthly powers, and all spiritual powers, no matter how dominant the opposition may be. This power is to transform suffering, division, violence and abuse with divine love. This power is to reclaim wellbeing as the fullness of creation in mutual harmony and unity, known as the kingdom of God. We pray it into being every time we pray. "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
How do we get this power? In baptism. As Paul says, "In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance--when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of your inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory." We have this power, whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we use it or not. It is in us, waiting to activated more fully under Christ the head of the Church.
How are we to use this power? As Jesus' disciples: seeking to follow his examples and share the good news with others of how divine love in action changes things. Being a disciple is not for everyone. A disciple has to decide to follow Jesus' ways, even if it means they don't always get what they want. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus validates how hard this can be. He blesses those who are struggling and suffering, yet still turn to God for comfort, strength, and hope. He promises they will receive what they need, even if not what they want, and will find themselves in the heart of God's glory. He turns to those who depend on material security, prestige, and position in society for their wellbeing, and warns them to change their ways.
Then he gets everyone's attention with most counter-culture teachings ever: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hat you; Bless those who curse you; Pray for those who abuse you. Offer the other cheek. Do not withhold even your shirt. Give to all who beg from you. If someone takes your things don't ask for them again.
All of these commands fly in the face if self-defense, self-worth, pride, and revenge, the ways of the world since the beginning of time. We are trained to hate our enemies, punish them, curse them, and fight back. We are trained to take what is ours (or we think or wish was ours no matter what. Look where that gets us.
In contrast, Jesus' teachings and examples show us the outrageous power of nonviolence, of breaking the cycle of hate with love in action. What is love in action? It's feeding the hungry, clothing whose who have not, yes. It also means putting other's needs before our own without self-abuse, it means actively listening to others without unnecessary taunting. It means going high when they go low. And it means blessing our enemies instead of cursing them. When we do, we are stopping negativity , at least within ourselves. Our positive energy then spreads and sometimes even diffuses a conflict on the spot.
It matters that we use our power to send positive energy and divine love in our thoughts, our words and our deeds. Isn't that what we want everyone to do? We can't change anyone but ourselves. With God's help, we can change ourselves, from negativity to faith and hope. Jesus summarized all this into what has become known as the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
If what we want most is respect, dignity, justice, hope, belonging to someone and something greater that ourselves, if what we want most is love, then we are to love as God loves. It's not easy. It's not popular. It's not what most others do, even some who call themselves Christian. But we are born to do it, and given the power to do it in our Baptism.
Saints have been loving as God loves since Jesus walked on this earth
Let us go and do likewise.