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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

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This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, the Church’s “Hall of Fame.” They are the men and women who “hung in there” despite all sorts of obstacles, to faithfully believing in God and His Son, Jesus. They are the ones who were truly lovers and followers despite their own sinfulness and weaknesses. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later the  1st  November was set  as the day for commemorating all the Saints.  All of us have this “universal call to holiness.” What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow in Jesus footsteps and try to conform ourselves to his image as we seek  to do  the will of the Father in all things In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium)

In today’s Gospel  which is the beatitudes we have Jesus’ charter for his kingdom,. When we listen to the beatitudes we can all put faces to the virtues. We remember these people and we know them. The people whose simplicity and littleness shine like a light in a world of darkness. The gentle folk whose energetic non-violence will never win medals. Those who cry and mourn their loss because they have tasted the presence of love.  The ones who hunger for what is right and who stay hungry until what is right becomes a reality. Those who scandalise us with their mercy because they exclude no one from its embrace. The people who have an undivided heart, whose loyalty to God is never in question. Those who not only look for peace but do everything in their power to make peace and build a kingdom among the ruins.This summary of Jesus’ teaching gives expression to the heart and spirit of the life to which Jesus calls us. True happiness, Jesus declares, will be found by those for whom their relationship with God means more to them than earthly goods – a “poverty of spirit, ” a “meekness” and “gentleness” after the example of Jesus, a “hunger for justice” that shapes what we do according to the values of the Kingdom, in sum “a pure (i.e. undivided) heart.” These are the ideals that have inspired the saints honoured by the Church, and those countless others known only to God.  

The Beatitudes are a sign of contradiction to the world’s understanding of happiness and joy.  How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution?  Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible.  Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit.  Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression.  God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness.  Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world.  Thomas Aquinas said: No one can live without joy.  That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.  Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone? So the question to ask ourselves today is are we prepared to take up the attitudes of the Beatitudes and make them our way of life?

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