Feast of All the Saints

Matthew 5:1-12a
1 Jn 3: 1-3 / Ps 24 / Rv 7:2-4,9-14

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3)

Our Lord gave us the Beatitudes
That like His saints we may be blessed.
Today, praise God with all gratitude
For the hope of eternal rest.

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and He began to teach them saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of 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 your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 1-12a)

Reflection

Today is the feast of all saints. Saints are those considered by the Church as blessed and beatified. They are best described by our Lord in the Beatitudes, acknowledged as one of the greatest troves of spiritual guidance and inspiration of all time. God Himself handed down this legacy to the human race. As we reflect on them, we can see the distinct contrast between the world’s view of happiness and success in this world, and God’s mission and vision for His Church. In fact, they summarize all the lessons that our Lord Jesus taught in the Gospel, as well as His life, by which He walked His talk, and prophesied perfectly.

Like His parables, Jesus started the Beatitudes with a paradox: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Jews then believed that those who are wealthy are the ones truly blessed by God. But to live a life of “poverty” or simplicity (even if we are rich) is what Jesus wants us to achieve. If God had given us the worldly riches that we dreamed about we most probably would not have been the kind of Christians that we are today — certainly not closer to Him, and far from being wise in the true path of Life. In no uncertain terms, Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Lk.18:24-25)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” All the saints were one with Jesus in mourning for the sins of men. Like Him, they offered their lives as a sacrifice to obtain mercy from the Father. Like “lambs led to slaughter,” their common distinguishing trait was meekness. They were willing to face martyrdom in their hunger for justice and righteousness.

“Blessed are the merciful…” This was the essential part of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples: “Be merciful to us for our sins as we are merciful to those who sin against us” (Mt.6:12). Unlike the world’s view of being merciful as a sign of weakness, Jesus showed the overwhelming power of mercy in the case of the adulterous woman on the verge of being stoned to death (John 8:3-7). The woman’s accusers were instantly dispersed by His gentle but authoritative words: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” Indeed, up to the very end of His life, Jesus showed us how to be merciful when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk.23:34).

Finally, Jesus admonishes us to purify our hearts and minds, for it is the only way we can “see God”. He asks us to cleanse our hearts of all worldliness, because it is the best way to understand the paradoxes in the spiritual realm. Great leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King lived a life of detachment, and became the world’s peacemakers. Jesus invites us to be like Him, the Prince of Peace, so that we can “be called sons of God.” He said, “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt.11:29). Thus shall we have nothing to fear of the world’s persecutions, but instead rejoice in being counted as one of His saints on earth. Jesus promises us in His Beatitudes that our sufferings will not be in vain, because our loving God sees them all, and all the hurts and insults heaped on us will fade to insignificance when we receive our reward in His kingdom. The Beatitudes are God’s Covenant that He will fulfill.

Father God, today as we honor our saints in heaven, we pray through their intercession that we may be able to live our lives here in full accord with the Beatitudes that our Lord Jesus taught us, so that we may keep our focus on your kingdom, and not be distracted by the false lights of this world from the evil one. Amen.

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