Saving Grace

Our reward is in heaven

“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.” – Matthew 5: 11-12

Sunday past, we celebrated All Saints Day, which officially falls on November 1. However, the church celebrates the Sunday closest to this feast day as All Saints Sunday.

The festival of All Saints goes back to the year 609. It was first celebrated to commemorate martyrs who had died for the faith. Later it was expanded by Pope Gregory IV to include the whole church, or all of the faithful who had died in the faith.

Originally, All Saints Day was celebrated on May 13. However, Pope Gregory III whose tenure was from 731 to 741 changed the date to November 1 when a feast of all the saints was commemorated in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 1.

The above text comes from the Beatitudes, which is part of the pericope for All Saints Day. The Beatitudes is included in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount.

In the text, Jesus tells us to “Rejoice and be glad.” To rejoice is to be glad, happy. Satan cannot take our joy. It is God’s gift to us.

Going back to the early church, Christians have always suffered for the faith. Even in our world today, Christians continue to suffer because of their faith.

However, this does not deter us in the Christian church. Our faith is built upon Christ Jesus, who became obedient, in his suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection. Yes, he bore our burdens so that we might be called children of God.

Our objective in faith is not in this world. We do not look forward to the transient things of this world. We look toward God’s kingdom, a mansion, which our Lord has gone before to prepare for us.

Consequently, Christians do not place their hope in earthly rewards. We cast our eyes upon the end, the resurrection when we shall stand before the throne of God and receive our just reward.

Therefore, when Jesus tells us to rejoice and be glad, we trust him because he understands what persecution and suffering are about. He speaks of what he has already experienced.

We can rejoice and be glad because after the persecution, comes the reward. That reward awaits us in heaven. Yes, heaven is our home.

No one can take away that joy and happiness. It is a joy which surpasses all understanding, and it comes to us from the Lord.

Our future is with Christ, in heaven. He protects and keeps us while we are here on earth.

When life’s journey is ended, he will bring us safely to eternal life.

Yes, in this world of pain, suffering, and woe, we will experience, some suffering, some indignity, and some affliction. But then, take comfort, Jesus gives us the assurance that he will be with us, even to the very end of the world.

Because we have this assurance, we can endure the complications of life. We are not alone. They have “persecuted the prophets who were before” us. Furthermore, our Lord and savior endured our suffering in his body.

We need not fear or be despondent because of the suffering of this world. Our reward is in heaven. All who run and finish the course will receive this reward on the last day. For this reason, Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” Amen.

• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; website:  

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