The People of God: Rejoice

From: “The People of God: Rejoice”
By Bishop Karl Prüter

Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

It is amazing to me that among the manifold changes and so-called reforms in the church, no one has suggested that we drop the observance of All Saints Day.

While it is true that millions reared in parochial schools have strong memories concerning the heroics of their favorite saint, by and large the saint has ceased to be a hero among a large part of our society.

I cannot remember the number of times someone has made the remark to me, “Well, I’m not trying to be a saint.” In almost every case the remark was superfluous, by why aren’t we trying to be saints? For a saint is someone who has found God, and is this not the purpose of our existence? One might say that the saint is someone who has been successful in this life!

Our 20th Century world puts so much stress on success-it is a shame that it seeks after success in those things which are trivial and finite. At least in the past five decades, although the majority did not seek after sainthood, a vast host of men and women in the religious orders made this their professed goal. Most Catholics knew of at least one nun or brother who seemed to be striving after sainthood. The boy in parochial school who got his knuckles rapped with a ruler by some irate sister may have wondered how anyone with such a disposition could aspire to sainthood, but he never doubted but what this was her goal. He was sure she wasn’t going to make it, but he respected her for trying.

I, for one, would regret it very much if the cloistered brothers and nuns were to disappear from our world. We need someone to give witness to the ultimate goal of life. I am not saying that the way to find God is via the cloister, for this may not be the best way. But the cloister has been our most visible witness to the Christian convictions that we are here to serve God. You see too many in our day and age who do not understand this. They sometimes say we are here to serve others. This isn’t exactly true. In God’s eyes your neighbor is worth no more or no less than you. Service to your neighbor has worth only when it is the will of God.

We too often fail to realize that giving to others is a mixed blessing. The mother who sacrifices herself for a son or daughter has often unwittingly sacrificed the son or daughter as well.

The only daughter who has sacrificed her own happiness to care for a lonely mother has often created a heartless creature who has spoiled the happiness of everyone around her, including her own.

It is God who gives, and it is God who takes away. The saint is someone who has learned to be in tune with God’s wishes and to give as He directs. The saint lives not for others but for God, and through Him he serves others in the only way that brings an unmixed blessing.

It is said, that this generation wants to serve mankind. If this is true, then this generation needs to learn from the saints how mankind can best be served.

The Sermon on the Mount should not be misread. For Jesus has issued a call to all to give of themselves, but it is a qualified call. He asks that you be meek, that you hunger for justice, that you practice mercy, and that you seek after peace. But note this, though you do all this and endure the persecution that follows, you do it not for mankind but for His sake. Only in this way will mankind be blessed and only in this way will you find your recompense. Then may you. “Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven.”

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