Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary for All Saints # 667. Rev.7:2-4,9.14. Psalm
24:2.3-4.5-6. I John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12:
Beatitudes are plentiful in both testaments. All total in the Bible the
word occurs 133 times! And the New Testament has 53 uses of beatitude as
an adjective and noun. This makes the beatitudes as we have them in
Matthew 5:1-12 and in Luke 6: 20-22 for here they are gathered together in
a sermon that Jesus gives on the mount (seen in Matthew) and on the plain
(seen in Luke). They are essential to the gathering of all sayings of
Jesus and demonstrate for us a plan for life in the Spirit. Those who live
and practice them are “saints”. It is they whom we celebrate this day in
which all the righteous are included both from the times past and those now
and in the future. In a sense the last book of the Bible, the Book of
Revelation has much to tell us about the saints and the communion of
saints. Nor are the heavenly messengers, the angels forgotten.
It is Matthew and Luke who readily come to mind when we think of the
beatitudes which express complete joy, happiness, and magnanimity. They
certainly fit the meaning of today’s feast in honor of all saints who are
models for us in our call to holiness and our following of Jesus. They did
it and so can we with the help of God’s grace, his messengers, and his
saints who are attentive to us. Many spouses often pray to their and
through their deceased partner for help in times of need and discernment
and this too is part of what the Feast of All Saints is about. Some like
to distinguish the Saints with a capital letter, for example, Saint Matthew
or Saint Catherine; others realize that on this day we include the totality
of saints from time immemorial. It is a consoling mystery and we recite it
in our creeds.
We grow in the other virtues through this blueprint of life which is not
unreal or impossible to live. Faith, hope, and love are energized through
the beatitudes. Our prayers soar to God through them. Even the very first
psalm uses a beatitude to introduce the other 149 psalms we pray. Each of
us have our own special saints–some from the past some now among us.
Several of the friends you know may have seen John XXIII or Mother Theresa,
how lucky (another word for beatitude). Some call upon and sense the
presence of a guardian angel and this too is part of the mystery of how we
are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses to God’s revealed word lived
out in their lives and ministries. We make our journey with them and
venerate their memory; we pray through their intercession, we place their
relics in the altar stone and we trust in their support.
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount begins with a collection of beatitudes and
are very familiar to us. The saints lived them out in their ordinary lives
in an extrordinary way. The unnamed saints of the Bible are thus
remembered on this day–the woman who washes Jesus’ feet, the women
standing at a distance from the Cross, the martyrs of the woman who lost
all of her seven sons in the narrative given to us in the II Maccabees.
These are the ones we focus upon today. Though not canonized they are
celebrated and honored.
We may wish to reread the beatitudes of Matthew and Luke and think of a
saint or Saint who lived a particular beatitude throughout her or his life.
The canonized and the righteous ones are easily called to mind. We may live
an work with some every day. We are all part of the Body of Christ in the
Communion of Saints. Amen.
Lectionary reading for the continuous reading from St. Luke, Lectionary #
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-4. Psalm 131:1.2.3 and Luke 14:12-14.
In these scriptural passages we listen to three short excerpts. Each has
its own spiritual message for us on this day and we are grateful to God for
them for it is God’s word that we hear and assimilate to make sense out of
our lives. From Philippians we learn how important the Christian community
is for our lives. By our careful attention to the calls from our
communities of faith we experience unity and peace. We put on the mind of
Christ as Paul tells us to do. We take the initiative in community
practices and anticipate the needs of one another. “Let us think humbly of
others as superior to ourselves, each of us looking to others’ interests
rather than our own.”
Psalm 131 is a lesson in certitude about ourselves in relationship to God.
It calls for the trust and humbleness of a little child nestled in its
mother’s arms and resting there while being nursed. The image is timeless
and we take ourselves back to the comfort of a human mother taking care of
her baby, her child. God does the same for us in this Psalm. This is the
peace we all are searching for through our prayer and contemplation. “O
Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty.”
Then in Luke, Jesus addresses us and calls us to be mindful of the poor,
the marginal, the widows, and orphans. Some of them may be able to come to
our table and enjoy some food with us; others we visit in homes for the
elderly or in assisted living quarters. Jesus keeps telling us, “You
should be pleased that they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid in the
resurrection of the just.”
Three simple ideas may help us throughout this day to experience the
presence of God through these readings. They are community, humble prayer,
and love for the poor and the lonely. Living out these three themes will
give us the complete joy that Paul is speaking about in our passage. Amen.