Scripture: Lectionary 667. Nov.1, Solemnity of All Saints. Revelation 7:2-4,9-14. Psalm 24:1-2,3-4,5-6. I John3:1-3. Matthew 5:1-12.
Blessedness captures the theme for All Saints and how appropriate it is to have the Sermon on the Mount start with the nine beatitudes of St. Matthew, the Gospel most used by the Church before Vatican II and used in the regular cycle of Gospels for year A. We notice that Jesus is speaking to the disciples directly when he proclaims the beatitudes. It seems the crowd has been left outside of hearsay. It will be up to the disciples to preach and teach the beatitudes to the crowd.
This feast fits in well with the universal call to holiness of the People of God, the Church. That refers to all of us; so we have a chance to be among the saints both those with the capital S and those with the small s! So, Happy Feast Day, you-all!
The text from Matthew reads, “His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.” Matthew then gives us consecutively nine wonderful beatitudes; they are given by Jesus from the seated position on the Mount. This indicates his authority as a teacher like Moses. We certainly are in a Jewish setting when we read Matthew, one of the most Jewish of the writings in the New Testament.
Blessed are you…when…This refers to all of us who are called to be disciples of Jesus in the Church, for the Church is one of the major emphases in Matthew who alone among the Gospel has the word for Church in chapters 16 and 18. We are also told that the Scriptures are ours through the Church and especially through the liturgy of the word. While I heard the word Beatitude or Blessed, I thought of Mary, my spiritual mother, the mother of Jesus. Her cousin Elizabeth proclaims Mary as “blessed” for having believed. We Catholics often refer to her as the Blessed Mother or the Blessed Virgin.
The word for blessed in the New Testament is makarios and the two gospels that use that word the most are Matthew and Luke. There are many beatitudes or calls to be holy in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact there are an even fifty in both Testaments! John uses the word only twice; Mark does not use it at all; Matthew uses it 13 times while Luke uses it 15 times in his Gospel and twice in the Acts of the Apostles. Such a good number of texts with this word certainly cooperate with the notion of a universal call to be holy, blessed, and happy or joyful. All saints are in this state of beatitude and so are we, if we want to be and try to be with the help of God’s grace.
The Church attaches the word beatitude to those persons who lived a very holy, prayerful, and apostolic life. We call them Blessed Pope John XXIII, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, etc. These persons are on their way to become canonized and thus are named Saints once the required miracles are seen and their good lives have been scrutinized and affirmed.
The Book of Revelation also uses the word beatitude frequently and the first Psalm starts with the Hebrew equivalent of beatitude (Ashrei). We join all of them before the throne of God with the Lamb of God there who has been sacrificed for their and our salvation and sanctification. John tells us that we are God’s children now. We are all called to be saints.
Today we rejoice in the assurance that God calls each and every one of us to be happy, joyful, and holy people. We are all blessed in the Name of the Lord. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.