Bread In The Wilderness

Fr. Carl Diederichs

November 1st is always the Feast of All Saints. The readings given us are: Rev 7: 2-4, 9-14, 1st John 3: 1-3, and Matthew 5: 1-12a.

We are told that this feast was originally celebrated to honor and remember the many martyrs who died in the first century of Christianity. The early history remembered the martyrs, but as centuries passed the feast began to include all the named and unnamed followers of Jesus who passed to the other side, to glory.

In Revelation (probably the most misunderstood book of the Bible) John sees the vision of a great multitude of people. They were “sealed” with the seal of our living God. John’s vision continued and he sees “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” And who are they? “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

And John, in his letter, can be seen addressing those who have on the white robe and are now incorporated into Christ. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

And Jesus shows himself, as he is in Matthew’s Gospel. And that is where our teaching should come from; The Beatitudes, the “blessings” are ours if we are like him. We are blessed to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, to hunger and thirst for justice, to be merciful, to be clean of heart, to be peacemakers, to even be “persecuted” for the sake of righteousness, along with being “insulted.” He himself went through all of these things, for us. It is now our turn.

Today, all of the blessings are relevant, but I would like to hold up “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” What to make of this? Our current affairs certainly give us a glaring view of the lack of righteousness.

For us, righteousness can be seen in the way we are governed; is it just and fair? for the common good? it can be seen in our own lives by the way we treat our neighbor, by the way we “become prophet, priest and servant leader,” in faithfulness to the anointing we received at our Baptism.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” I ask blessings on all who are standing up for justice, for the cause of “Black Lives Matter,” for the cause of our environment, for health care for all, for those who challenge the status quo and are willing to become the object of insults and persecution. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”