NOVEMBER 1. All Saints Day. Mon. Mt 5. 1-12
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’
It is fitting, on the feast day of All Saints that the reading should be from the Sermon on the Mount where Christ gave his most in-depth teaching on the marks of holiness; - with the definition of a saint being a person who has attained holiness.
This reading of course only serves as an introduction to the Sermon, as it comprises three chapters of St Matthews Gospel, but what is said here certainly provides the foundation for everything that follows, and particularly the first teaching; - being poor in spirit!
Whenever I ponder the sermon, I rarely get past this first teaching of ‘poverty of spirit’ as I believe it is an essential component that has to be put into practice before any of the others can follow. This is because it deals with the desires and concerns of the heart.
The reason I feel stuck on this point is it forces me to focus on the many desires dwelling in my heart, many of which are obstacles to the following of Christ. It makes me ask the question; - do I really desire nothing, apart from the Will of God?
I have always found it difficult to get past this question as Christ had no desire besides doing the Father’s Will; - and I do not feel comfortable claiming these are the sentiments in my heart.
It is poverty of spirit that enables the saints to joyfully embrace the Cross, in imitation of Christ, because their hearts are free of any personal desire or ambition; - and there can be no following of Christ without the Cross. In contrast our hearts are full of so many desires and concerns?
The essential ingredient, that allows the saints to embrace both the Cross and God’s Will, is of course Love; - Love of God; - as genuine holiness demands loving ‘nothing’ apart from God; - a requirement that is beyond us because we are sinners; - which is why we have to turn to God in prayer and sacrament; - trusting, not in our own efforts; - but rather in the grace of God!
Gospel Acclamation Mt11:28
Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
Second reading 1 John 3:1-3 ·
We shall be like God because we shall see him as he really is
Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.
Surely everyone who entertains this hope
must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.