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All For One, And One For All

Matthew 5:1-12

The Rev. Jon Roberts

1 November


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 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.

All For One, And One For All

The Beatitudes by Joseph Matar, 1997

All for one and one for all, blessed are the Saints who answer God’s call.[1]

Last night would have been a big night, under ordinary circumstances (Covid 19 reference), with children and adults, walking up and down the streets, dressed in costumes and ringing doorbells. For those who did venture out to celebrate Halloween, the trending favorites that arrived at the door were a blend of traditional and contemporary choices. Usually you see a ghost, a pirate, a pumpkin or even a princess but there are always new characters to call upon. This year the trending costumes of characters were chosen from recent TV shows. Some dressed up as cheerleaders from Cheer; The Teddy from the Masked Singer, the popular kids’ show, the Baby Shark family or Janet from Netflix’s The Good Place. Other characters seen were from movies such as Marvel’s Black Widow, Black Panther or Wonder or maybe the simple character called Forky from Disney’s Toy Story 4.[2] They all seem to have unique challenges. Some are altruistic; selfless and concerned for the well-being of others while others were competitive, winning at all cost. Of course, some still dressed up as scary subjects, villains, and those who have significant flaws. Halloween’s attraction and what people are called to imitate is a very telling choice. It about becoming something they are not, or avoiding something they don’t want to meet.

About twenty five years ago you may have seen adults or children ring your bell on Halloween dressed alike as the Three Musketeers. When they rang your doorbell they most likely would have chanted, “All for one and one for all.” This was their creed, helping them fight the oppressor and returning what was stolen from the poor. They rescued damsels in distress and had immense courage; working together as brothers, striving for what is good, and defending those who are weak; amiable qualities we should all be called to exemplify. They were real heroes but they were not saints. They had flaws. Just because we stand out, doing what is good, selfless and “real” does not always justify the title of a “Saint”. So what does?
This brings us to the treat. Candy. The characteristics of a saint are like the ingredients in a recipe for something sweet and delicious. They need to be added in precise measurements, combined just so, and baked to perfection. You add one thing wrong, or too little or too much, you mess it all up. It is all for one, and one for all. Speaking of Halloween candy and sweets, in 1949, Florence Berger wrote a Church cookbook called, “Cooking with Christ.” Unfortunately it is out of print and hard to find but she created some tasty traditions. For example, at Halloween she created a dessert called a “Soul cake” and it was delicious. The idea was that when you took a bite, it was so delicious, it reminded you of heaven; something you wanted to have for all eternity. Basically, it was fresh dough, rolled in a liquified, creamy sugar and dropped in hot fat. Today’s equivalent may be the “hot-fresh” donut you get at a Krispy Kreme. You baked these “Soul cakes” to give to children when they came to your door on the Eve of All the Saints, aka. Halloween. This is what the children had to say to get one:

Soul, soul, an apple or two,
If you haven't an apple, a pear will do,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the Man Who made us all. [3]

They had to say this to get one, or two. Later, children forgot the part “for the Man who made us all” and were allowed to get by with some type of charade, dance or wear an interesting costume that resembled a saint of the Christian church. Oh, how we have moved far away from this custom and it is unfortunate. We should imitate the calling of the Saints of God and to affirm God as the creator of us all. All for one and one for all.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel is making a similar treat, which appears to be a trick to those who perhaps were looking for a Superman to save the world. Jesus, wearing no cape, sits everybody down while he prepares the ingredients and tells the story. It will be tasty and it will be a reminder of eternity for those who meditate on it. Looking on the “shelf,” out among the people in front of him, he begins to pick one at a time, measuring each as essential ingredients. Reaching for one at a time he adds it to the bowl, blessing each attribute as he stirs them around:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn;
Blessed are the meek;
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness;
Blessed are the merciful;
Blessed are the pure in heart;
Blessed are the peacemakers;
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake;
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.[4]

In these beatitudes, Jesus reveals a colorful, selfless, real presentation, all mixed together as the ingredients of the saints. To be a Saint means you answer God’s call. For many it appears to be a trick. You have to give up your life so you can receive it. You have to carry your cross and follow Jesus. What a pitiful offering it seems to be. Many people are tricked today, thinking the promise of eternity is simply earned by doing what is good and what is right, or being better or stronger. Those ingredients alone, by themselves, do not guarantee what God is offering. It is all for one and one for all.

This brings us to our treat. We are given a Soul cake today. It may not look like or taste like a donut. It is not swirled in sugar and dropped in hot fat. Instead it is flat. It is tasteless and it appears void of color and character. This is not a trick. This is a treat. He gives it to us in the palm of our hand. In the Host, the bread, the body of Christ Jesus, every ingredient we need for tasting and seeing God is right there. “See what love the Father has given 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. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be (saints) has not yet been revealed.”[5] That is why we should not take lightly the reception of God’s body and blood. The God who made us all lives in the morsel where Jesus became flesh and blood for our salvation. He did it all for one, and one for all.

As you come to receive God’s blessing today, do so because you hear his call. You are the ingredients desired by God for the continuance of this created world. When you eat of this bread, let your mind and your heart be treated by God’s love and mercy. Offer your adoration in exchange for the heavenly host, to be like the saints who hear Jesus call, “All for one and one for all.”

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts, adapted use of Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers, 1844.
[3] Florence Berger, Cooking for Christ, 1949.
[4] Matthew 5:1-12
[5] 1 John 3:1-3

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