Solemnity of All Saints
November 1, 2020
Back in 1954, a man named Irving Berlin wrote a song that was recorded by two very popular singers. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney both recorded the song that became as popular as the singers. I wonder if any young people have ever heard of the singers or the song. But, back in the day, I bet the lyrics influenced folks more than they even realized. The first verse is:
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings…
The notion of “counting one’s blessings” seems logical, in good times, when there is a lot to be optimistic about. But, during 2020, even if the likes of Taylor Swift re-recorded that song…
Count Your Blessing Instead of Sheep,
the reaction would quite likely be:
Still, in good or bad times, whether young, middle-aged, or elderly, it is a stretch to think about falling asleep while counting blessings like:
DEPENDENCE…that is what “poor in spirit” means. “Poor in spirit” is acknowledging our total dependence upon God. In these times when we place such a high value on our independence, many would argue that dependence on God is a crutch, and certainly not a blessing.
GRIEF…that is a response to significant loss that touches every aspect of our lives. Grief affects our emotional, physical, and social well-being, and not in a good way. Those struggling to move through the dark cloud of grief hardly consider themselves being blessed.
GENTLE…that is definitely not the way most folks would want to be described. Society admires and rewards aggressive risk-takers. Those who are humble, patient, or docile frequently find themselves the subject of ridicule or abuse.
DOWNTRODDEN…that is an expression that covers a multitude of sufferings. People who are sitting in a prison cell, having been wrongly convicted of a crime, are downtrodden. Whistleblowers who lose their jobs because they speak truth are downtrodden. Victims of racial profiling are downtrodden. Children who are bullied on the playground are downtrodden. The list goes on and on. One thing for certain, if you are on the list, you long for justice.
FORGIVING…SINCERE…PASSIVIST…ABUSED…all words that imply disadvantage. These are not characteristics that someone applying for a job in the corporate world would use to described themselves in their resume.
Today’s Gospel would cause most people to toss and turn all night long. This sure does not seem to be the cure for insomnia. Still, Jesus teaches us that, in a spiritual sense, these are BLESSINGS that should be counted, treasured, and valued. These are the ways in which we reflect Christ in this world. These are opportunities for us to pick up The Cross and follow Jesus.
As we celebrate All Saints Day, there can be no better way for us to reflect on what it means to be a “saint.” Matt. 5:1-12 is a job description for a life in Christ. How can anyone be more blessed than to live in Christ? How can anyone be more blessed than to experience Christ living within them and through them? Who could be more blessed?
But there is a final thought about “blessings.” Blessings are meant to be shared. So, when we encounter someone who is poor in spirit, or mourning, meek, downtrodden…disciples reach out and share the blessings by helping to carry the cross.
SO, if you happen to be suffering from insomnia, remember that Christ always blesses us…and gives us His Peace. Also remember…the more Christlike we are as we walk this earth, the more likely it is that we will rest in Christ’s peace for all eternity!