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Blessed Are You

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Blessed
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 New International Version (NIV)

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

The Great Multitude in White Robes

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 

Excerpt from Living Space All Saints | Sacred Space.

The First Reading from the book of Revelation presents an apocalyptic vision of those who have died in Christ. They are numbered at 144,000 – a number taken literally by some Christian sects. However, the number is clearly symbolical. It consists of the sacred number 12, squared and multiplied by another complete number, 1,000. It simply represents the total of all those who have died faithful to Christ their Lord. They represent “every nation, tribe and language” for access to Christ is open to all. They are dressed in white robes with palms in their hands. They are the robes of goodness and integrity. The palms of victory are a reference to the joyful Jewish feast of Tabernacles for these are the ones invited to live in God’s tent or tabernacle.

Together with them are the angels, the 24 elders (perhaps representing the 12 patriarchs and the 12 Apostles) and the four living creatures (a very high rank of angels), all prostrate in adoration before the glory of God. The song they sing has been magnificently set to music by Handel in his “Messiah”. Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength are seven attributes of perfect praise.

 

Psalm 24:1-6 New International Version (NIV)
Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

1 John 3:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Matthew 5:1-12 New International Version (NIV)
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Excerpt from Living Space All Saints | Sacred Space.

The word ‘blessed’ is sometimes translated ‘happy’. It might be more accurate to translate it as ‘fortunate’. In other words, people who have these qualities are really in an envious position. All of these beatitudes are indications that we belong to the ‘kingdom of heaven’. This is to be understood not as a place, still less as referring to life after death. It rather describes the kind of society that exists when we live according to these values – a place of truth and love, of compassion and justice, of peace, freedom and sharing.

The general message is that those are really blessed when they know their dependence on God and on their sisters and brothers; when they commit themselves totally to the Way that Christ invites them to follow.

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