By Mary MacGregor

This weeks Gospel recalls Jesus’ sermon on the mount, commonly referred to as The Beatitudes. In his usual manner, Jesus surprised his followers by uttering godly, countercultural truth. In essence, his teaching that day laid the foundation for what it means to live a Christian life.

What does it mean to be merciful, pure in heart, meek, poor in spirit, mournful, to be a peacemaker, to hunger and thirst for righteousness and be willing to be persecuted for it? The Beatitudes are a guide that, when studied, reveal layers of meaning for us as believers. They challenge many of our basic human desires and behaviors. Of ultimate importance, they clearly reveal what God seeks to bless.

Aren’t we fortunate that our God is forgiving and full of grace as we strive to be transformed by these teachings? Our journey of formation requires change and opening our eyes to see God in action all around us. Included in this change is seeing God’s endless blessings poured out upon us and developing a posture of gratitude in return.

Being thankful changes us for the better. Being thankful changes our perspective on life and can profoundly impact our understanding of God’s generosity. Being thankful can shape us to be stewards of all God has entrusted to us. Being thankful softens our fears. Being thankful turns fear of scarcity into joyful gratitude for God’s abundance.

We remember the saints who have gone before us on this All Saints Day. Some were revered as saints of old. Some were modern day saints. Some were simple folks like you and me. One distinguishing characteristic of saints is that we can see how they embodied and lived Jesus’ teachings, these very Beatitudes. They generously gave of their lives so much so that we remember them today. We are confident they were blessed by God for their faithfulness. May we be thankful for their witness and see in them lives shaped by The Beatitudes and be willing to do the same.

For reflection

• How do The Beatitudes impact your understanding of God’s generosity?

• How has that understanding changed you?

Canon Mary MacGregor is a member of the board of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. She has been deeply involved in congregational development for over 25 years, and served as Canon for Congregational Vitality and Mission Amplification for the Diocese of Texas.