a Saturday night not long ago I watched the first game of the World Series.
I saw a great multitude and heard them crying out with a loud voice: “You
gotta believe” and “We love our idiots!” I have no difficulty, therefore,
imaging the great multitude we celebrate today, those of Christ’s team that
have made it safely to home base. That they are safe at home, however,
should not ever mislead us into thinking that their base-running was errorless.
Many of them were idiots too, just like the Red Sox, just like me, and perhaps
just like you. They reached home safely only after many tribulations,
and with good coaching. I find that comforting. It explains why
the multitude cries out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God and
to the Lamb” – not to our efforts. Those safe at home have finally
figured it out. Today is not too late for us to figure it out also.
In today’s gospel Jesus, introduced by John the Baptizer to his disciples
as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” coaches his disciples,
including us, as to how precisely sins are to be taken away. “Blessed
are those who mourn,” that is, in the language of the day, who are sad that
God’s law has been violated; Jesus mourned endlessly. “Blessed are
those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” that is, in the language
of the day, who seek to be in right relation with God; Jesus sought that
right relation relentlessly. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” that
is, in the language of the day, who desire only God and nothing beyond God;
Jesus certainly desired only God and God’s will. “Blessed are the peacemakers,”
those who seek communion with their fellows and with God; not by chance did
Jesus come to be known as the Prince of Peace.
The multitude who have reached home safely and whom we celebrate today was
drafted, as are we, to be Christ-ians, followers of Jesus the Lamb who is
also the Christ. What they have to teach us is no more than what they
themselves were taught and what they did about it. They mourned, they
hungered after righteousness, they ardently desired God, they were peacemakers.
Yes, they made errors, but errors the Lamb and his God could redeem.
Is it any wonder they sing in sempiternal joy and thanksgiving: “Blessing
and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might to our
God for ever and ever.” We celebrate their song as today’s hit song.
Our task is to learn their song and to sing it, not with words only but especially
with deeds, for we will reach home safely only by doing the word of God.
I invite you to sing along with me.