It is said that the aim of the Church is nothing less than to produce men and women who have in them the reflection of Jesus Christ himself. A saint is “someone in whom Christ lives again.”
We celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. Today’s feast gives us an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a saint, to be holy. It emphasizes the universality of the call to holiness.
Jesus, in today’s gospel reading, teaches us the way to holiness: that is, by living out the Beatitudes. The word ‘beatitude’ is derived from the Latin word ‘beatitudo’ which means happiness. The word ‘blessed’ in today’s gospel passage is also translated, “How happy.” To be holy is to be happy. To be happy is to be holy. Saints (holy people), therefore, are the truly happy people.
However, God’s kind of happiness, as defined in the Beatitudes, represents a radical reversal of almost everything we have ever been taught about the meaning of happiness! Look at the Beatitudes again and contrast them with what we have been taught.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” We have always been taught that happiness is defined in terms of being materially rich and financially secure…in terms of being self-sufficient and self-reliant.
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” We have been taught that happiness means never experiencing anything that causes us sadness and sorrow…never lamenting and grieving.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” We have been taught that happiness is defined in terms of being assertive, aggressive, and competitive…in terms of control, power, and domination.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied.” We have been taught that happiness is defined in terms of satisfying or gratifying our inordinate desires for entertainment and enjoyment, for thrill and pleasure…we have been taught to conform to the values of the world.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” We have been taught that mercy is a sign of weakness…that mercy promotes vice, crime, and disorder…that drug addicts do not deserve mercy; they deserve to be killed!
“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” We have been taught to desire many things, even to the point of being attached to persons, things, and places…we have been taught to fill our heart with worldly desires.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” We have been taught that happiness is defined in terms of being prepared for war and winning…in terms of crushing and eliminating our enemies.
“Blessed are they who are persecuted, for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We have been taught that happiness is never experiencing rejection, oppression or persecution…We have been taught that those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are fools and fanatics.
God’s kind of happiness reverses almost everything we have been taught about happiness. But if one of us has to be wrong – either us or God – you can be sure that it is not God.
Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in his holiness and heavenly glory as a reward for their faith. Let us, therefore, ask the intercession and inspiration of All Saints that we may be able to respond to the call to holiness – that is, to live in God’s love and to make his love real wherever we are.
I want to share with you the beautiful lyrics of the song The Message by Eugene H. Peterson: You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of GOD in your life. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for GOD. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see GOD in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. You’re blessed when your commitment to GOD provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into GOD’s kingdom.