The readings for today are those for All Souls. So when looking at a reading for All Souls the decision makers chose the beatitudes. This is not the popular version of the beatitudes. The popular version comes from Matthew 5:3-12. Luke’s version of the beatitudes (v20-23) leads into the negative side which are the ‘woes’ (v24-26). It finishes with the love your enemy (v27-31). It begs the question – what does this reading have to do with All Soul?
We must understand the difference between All Saints and All Souls. All Saints, 1 November, remembers all the believers who have departed. All Souls, 2-3 November, remembers all those who have died and are outside of God’s Kingdom. This leads to an interesting discussion about who is in heaven and who isn’t.
I want to share my beliefs. Heaven for me is a place that lives God’s way. If you do not want to live God’s way you cannot be there. So those who are outside choose not to live God’s way.
As we cannot live God’s way, Jesus offers a bridge to enter God’s kingdom and to live God’s way in eternal life. Those who do not want to live this way do not accept Jesus’ help and choose to be outside of God’s Kingdom.
I do not expect any to agree with my beliefs, and I would love to hear your thoughts on how you believe it works.
From my perspective we approach the reading as the requirement and consequences of our choices. Those who seek God’s way will be blessed, and those who do not, will experience woes. Even if we do want to live God’s way we will turn away and in those times we will experience the woes. In the same way when anyone lives God’s way, whether they want to or not, they are blessed.
The end of the reading requires us to approach our enemies from a point of understanding and love. We do not let them draw us into their ways, and we engage with them out of the desire to live God’s way. We do this because we are reflecting the blessings living God’s way gives to us. In this we pray they may want to choose God’s way.
We do this for all people and therefore for All Souls.