November 1, 2020 — Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
RV 7:2-4, 9-14; PS 24:1B-4B, 5-6; 1 JN 3:1-3; MT 5:1-12A
On this Feast of All Saints, we have the profound joy of celebrating our big brothers and sisters in Christ: the saints! This is an especially meaningful feast for us as Christian stewards.
Saints inspire us and lead us to Christ by their example of heroic virtue. Sainthood is meant for all of us — not just the canonized, and not only the martyrs and missionaries. At our Baptism, we all receive the call to holiness and discipleship — in other words, the call to sainthood. If we wish to go to Heaven, we must strive to become saints! Thankfully, through the stewardship way of life, we can each discover our unique path to do just that.
Our First Reading, from Revelation, describes the glory of the saints in Heaven: “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands” all praising and worshiping God as one. This is our future if we are faithful to the call of Christ! But their journey to that place of joy and triumph was hard-fought. “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” We should not expect the road to sainthood to be easy.
In today’s Second Reading, from 1 John, we are given good encouragement for the journey: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” And as glorious as that truth is — our present status as children of God — we are reminded that the best (Heaven) is yet to come. “What we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Glory beyond all we can imagine awaits us! The arduous journey to Heaven will be worth every difficulty.
In our Gospel passage from Matthew, the well-known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals His Beatitudes. In them, our Lord lays out the characteristics that mark His disciples, His saints-in-the-making. As we examine, tweak, and update our individual and parish commitments to the steward-ship way of life, we must always keep these Beatitudes in mind as a measure of our progress to-wards saintliness.
The “blessed” that our Lord speaks of are not nine different types of good people who get to go to Heaven. Rather, the “blessed” are nine characteristics of the disciples of Christ, living in their communities — whether at home or in school, in parish life, etc.
These characteristics — poor in spirit, mourners, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and insulted — are exactly the opposite of the common wisdom which urges us to focus on self and getting ahead. They can only be obtained with an abundance of grace. But we are children of God as we have been reminded, and so we have access to the infinite treasury of God’s grace.
Armed with that grace and the stewardship way of life, we can have firm hope that one day we will join our big brothers and sisters in the never-ending joys and celebration of Heaven.
Happy Feast Day to all the saints and saints-in-the-making!