1 November 2015: Solemnity of All Saints

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Rv 7:2-4, 9-14 Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6 1 Jn 3: 1-3 Mt 5: 1-12

How to be a saint

This week the Feast of All Saints interrupts our Ordinary time readings. The Lectionary presents RCIA participants and all the believing community with stories and teachings about the saints–the “holy ones,” God’s children, God’s heroines and heroes who live with God in the kingdom.

In the first reading from Revelation, John of Patmos uses images and metaphors to picture the end of time. The “uncountable multitude” is us: the believing community who “survived the great trial” and are now with God. John uses the liturgy as a metaphor for heaven: the uncountable multitude in white robes, angels, elders, and four living creatures worship God and the Lamb that was slain (Jesus). In other words, the holy ones (the believing community) have attained complete intimacy with God.

In the second reading, John the Elder gives us another image of heaven. God’s love for us is so great right now that God calls us God’s own children. We don’t know what we will be in the future, but we do know that we will be like God. In the kingdom we will see God as God is. In other words, God wants us to be saints (be with God).

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus gives us the blueprint for living in God’s kingdom. In his eight beatitudes, Jesus lists characteristics and dispositions that his disciples must possess:

  • Poor in spirit: The Hebrew word anawim (“God’s poor”) describes the vulnerable, the marginalized, the oppressed, the non-persons who depend totally on God. Jesus’ disciples depend on God completely.
  • Mourning: Jesus’ disciples may not be able to change others’ evil acts, but they can resist evil in themselves by recognizing it and mourning it.
  • Humble: The meek or humble do not react in anger or with force against those who wrong them. Jesus’ disciples rely on God and not their own strength to make things right.
  • Starving for righteousness: Jesus’ disciples are not content with things as they are; they constantly search for something greater.
  • Merciful: The Hebrew word hesed means “loving-kindness:” God’s love for humans, and God’s covenant relationship with the Hebrew people. Jesus’ disciples treat everyone as generously as God has treated them.
  • Clean of heart: The Hebrew word lebab (“heart”) indicates the center of a person’s inner life–emotions, intellect, and will. Jesus’ disciples’ inner lives align with their external acts.
  • Peacemakers: The Hebrew the word shalom (“peace”) means “wholeness,” “completeness,” and “healing”–not only the absence of strife. Jesus’ disciples share the mission of reconciling the world to the Father (2 Cor 5:19).
  • Being persecuted: The scriptures are full of righteous people persecuted for their faith and trust in God. Jesus’ disciples should expect no better treatment from the world.

To live the beatitudes is to imitate Jesus himself: dependent on God alone, recognizing and resisting evil, meeting anger with kindness, always seeking God’s will, being as generous as God, being aligned with God’s will, bringing wholeness and reconciliation, accepting persecution. We are already God’s children; this is how we become saints.

—Terence Sherlock


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