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Solemnity of All Saints
When he 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, today’s Gospel passage crescendos from values such as purity and poverty to the intensity of persecution and trial to the pure joy of eternal reward. Teach my heart to beat in symphony with this message from your heart.
- Blessed Are the Merciful: Each of the beatitudes is a pearl of Gospel wisdom with enough richness to occupy a contemplative heart for quite some time. Let us examine one beatitude at random: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” God is our merciful Father, who has given us the gifts of creation and redemption, along with special graces such as a family or a good workplace. He shows his mercy by giving us the grace to resist temptation, and holding out the offer of forgiveness when we fall. A life of mercy is a life of blessedness—in other words, happiness. This is the promise of all eight beatitudes.
- The Church Chooses All!: The Church’s liturgy today does not restrict us to the contemplation of one beatitude, but floods us with all of them at once. This Gospel bonanza is in accordance with today’s feast day, the Solemnity of All Saints. It is truly a wonder to think of the variety and diversity of the saints. They were poor in spirit and thirsty for righteousness. They were meek and merciful, poor and peaceful. They were persecuted, insulted, and mocked. And what did they receive in exchange? Happiness in Heaven. One thing all the saints have in common is their reward of Heaven, eternal life with Jesus. And that is where all our sufferings and crosses in Christ are leading us too. So rejoice and be glad!
- True Blessedness: The repetition of the word “Blessed” is the most characteristic element in this Gospel passage. The repetition of it rings in our ears: blessed, blessed, blessed. “Blessed” is a synonym for “happy” but with a deeper connotation. Jesus is not suggesting that we will feel great when we mourn or are insulted. But he is suggesting that there is a deeper kind of happiness–beatitude–which suffuses even suffering and all kinds of unpleasantness, transforming it through faith. This joy of the saints ran soul-deep, and no amount of adversity could take it away.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I can only accept these challenging beatitudes and aspire to them because they come from you. You lived them yourself first, and then you invited me to live them, giving me the grace I need to follow you. O Lord, continue to rain down your grace on me so I can be blessed!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will consider purchasing one of the many Lives of the Saints in order to provide myself with solid companions for the rocky road of faith.
For Further Reflection: Read Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s homily from November 1, 2006: “In truth, the blessed par excellence is only Jesus…”
Deacon Erik Burckel, LC, is a religious in preparation for the priesthood. He writes articles and short stories for diverse purposes and publications, and can be reached at email@example.com.