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Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
When the Apostle John was granted a vision of heaven, one of the most striking things he saw was the depiction of the saints. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” The saints are not shunted off into a corner while the angels and archangels glorify God. The saints are right in the middle of things, singing praise to God through whom they have received salvation.
Today we remember those who have gone before us in the faith—those saints who are gathered around the throne of the Lamb. And yet, we do not remember them for their sake. They don’t care about the honors humanity would bestow upon them. Instead, we remember them because of the One who has done all the work for them, the One who died to win salvation for all mankind, the One who sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church so that the gifts of forgiveness and life would be given to us, even though we have no merit or worthiness on our own. Still, Jesus doesn’t need our praise any more than do the faithfully departed, though He is pleased to receive it for our sake.
So why do we remember the saints if it doesn’t do them or Jesus any good? We remember the saints because, by their faithful example, we learn from them to live by faith. More importantly, we remember them because we see the love of God in their lives—how God in His great mercy called our sinful ancestors to repentance and gave them new and contrite hearts; how God looked upon them and both promised and delivered salvation to them, no matter how ugly their sin, no matter how fouled their hearts without Him.
So if Jesus is the One doing the work, why do we consider the saints to be “blessed?” We must remember that it is our Lord, first and foremost, who is the Blessed One. From there, the blessing He speaks does its work on all people, giving holy lives that live from and in Our Lord and the blessing He is and the blessing He gives. We are poor in spirit before God because Christ made Himself poor in spirit for us. We are meek because Christ humbled Himself. We are filled with the righteousness of Christ in the waters of Holy Baptism, where we received the spotless, gleaming, blood-washed robe of His righteousness.
This is not a blessedness that you earn. It is not a blessedness you live up to. It is not a blessedness that kicks in only when you’ve met the conditions. It is simply blessing, with the heavenly gift clearly and forthrightly attached. What our Lord becomes, what He takes in, what He endures, what He suffers and buries deeply within His own body, what He makes and calls His own—that is what He blesses. And you are a member of His body, made a member of His body in the waters of Holy Baptism.
Because you often stumble and fall on your walk of faith; because you quickly fall into temptation; because you easily fall prey to your bitterness, your anger, your weaknesses—you need examples to inspire you and to help you see that the blessing applies even to you. That is why our Lord raises up saints: they are models of how our Lord’s blessing shapes you. They show clearly through their life and death what our Lord’s blessing gains for you.
So let us thank our Lord for the godly faith and holy virtue He has lived in the saints and martyrs who have gone before us. For even now, as we say ready ourselves to feast on the Lamb at the throne and receive into our bodies His holy life once again—even now, the saints and martyrs who have gone before us in the faith, together with the angels and archangels, join us in rejoicing, in our song of praise and thanksgiving to the God who makes us blessed. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.