The Gospel according to Matthew (5:1-12a)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Today, we have the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. It’s also the first day of November, the month we set aside in our year to remember those who we have lost, particularly in this past year. Coming right after that mainly secular holiday of Halloween, where it’s all about (a) goodies and (b) scaring others, it’s easy to look on this holiday as an example of how we followers of Jesus focus too much on death. I don’t see it that way at all. Maybe that’s because I was all about item (a) that I mentioned, and not so much about item (b).
This day, we remember not just those named by the Church as Saint <something>. We remember all the good men, women, and even some not yet fully grown, who lived a life that shone forth something more, something that connects us with the divine. When I preside at Baptisms at St Rita’s, I remind everyone that we are there celebrating these new members of God’s family, and that family is not just those around the world today. It includes those who have gone before us, who we trust are there in God’s presence even now, praying for each of us. Those who are there in heaven know fully, as St Paul promised. And, they are praying for us, and waiting for us, to give us the most wonderful greeting we can imagine when our time to leave this earthly journey comes.
I’m reminded this All Saints Day of Linda’s Uncle Gerald. I believe he was the youngest brother of Linda’s mom, Marge. He passed away this spring, and Linda and I and her brothers and sisters celebrated him. I remember him from when I first came to know Linda’s family, before we even were engaged. His joyful spirit and warm welcome really touched me, as I did not come from a family with much, and I was used to being looked down upon. I didn’t have many long conversations with Uncle Gerald, but he always made me feel valued, and he told me that he was glad I was there to take care of Linda. I miss him, even though we hadn’t seen him a lot in the last several years. I look forward to that joyful reunion one day, with Uncle Gerald and all those who I believe are there waiting for me.
As we begin this month of commemoration of the holy souls, let us look at our days to see how many of the Beatitudes from today’s Gospel that we are truly living out (and not just outwardly, but inside our hearts). And, if we are falling short (and who among us isn’t?), let us use these last weeks of this liturgical year to promise to do better, and to ask our Lord to give us whatever we need to live out the Beatitudes. And then, when we begin the new liturgical year in a few weeks, what a wonderful new chapter of our lives we can start to write! Let each of us be a source of joy wherever we go!
Action for the Day:
Spend a few minutes today pondering the Beatitudes, and in the quiet of your heart, ask God to help you with the one that is hardest to live up to. Then, go forth and live your life with that hardest Beatitude in mind, and allow God to help you to grow in living that one out!
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!