"Who are these wearing white robes?” says an elder in heaven to the narrator in today’s First Reading from the Book of Revelation. The elder then answers his own question, “Why, these are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” Now anyone who has ever tried to remove even a small blood stain from a piece of clothing can understand that it must have been a near impossible task in first century Palestine, long before OxyClean, Spray and Wash or Shout. And so we can only wonder at the perfectly ridiculous image of robes made radiantly white by washing them in lamb’s blood. But this is not just any lamb. And the offbeat beauty of these words reveals the truth of the dazzling, unprecedented victory of the Lamb of God, which he has “achieved not by domination and aggression” but by his loving acquiescence even unto death.* It is Jesus’ self-forgetful love that has created this radiance.
He is the radiant, blood-stained Lamb, who is seated on the throne at God’s right hand. We live now in the period of his sovereign rule over us. But it is a reign that is, nonetheless, far from complete. And ultimately the Beatitudes describe those who are putting his reign into effect, making the kingdom happen. And as all the saints would remind us, it’s all about Christ Jesus - losing ourselves for him, in him, and ultimately becoming transparent to him. Today is this great feast of transparency and transformation.
Jesus tells us, “How blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” he invites us to recognize ourselves among the lowly and insignificant - those who look to God for everything. The Beatitudes are not Jesus' philosophy but his way for us to become kingdom, a way to live as if God were truly in charge, the way to live in him, who is our Beatitude, our way to true happiness.