01Nov 01 November, 2020. All Saints Day

01 November, 2020. All Saints Day

1st Reading: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14

Vast numbers were sealed with the sign of the Living God

I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Responsorial: Psalm 24

Response: Lord, these are the people that longs to see your face

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world, and those who dwell in it.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the rivers he made it firm. (R./)

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The clean of hands and pure of heart,
whose soul is not set on vain things. (R./)

Blessings from the Lord shall they receive,
and right reward from the God who saves them.
Such are the people who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

The love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

The Beatitudes as guide to the Kingdom of Heaven

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

BIBLE

Who are all this glorious band?

A veil of mystery hides what lies in store for human beings beyond this mortal life here and now. Saint Paul recognises this fact when he says that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard nor has it entered the human heart to imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Cor 2:9]. Still, the holy Scriptures provide a wealth of hopeful images to give a foretaste of what lies in store beyond this world, for those who love God. Those in heaven are no plaster saints, no gloomy killjoys, but a glorious band of decent people who lived with such love, they went went straight back to the God they loved so well. They went “marching in” — happy to be meeting face to face with the One who always held them in the palm of his hand. Heroes and ordinary people. Some who have inspired the church for centuries, and other unsung heroes, living a quiet life of kindness and duty, pure of heart and gentle of spirit.

“A great multitude that no one could count” — because God is rich in mercy, and in the Father’s House there are many mansions. There’s place there for all of us, and the surest way is to cling to “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Jesus has told how to be good people. He shows us how to be the best people we can be, and the qualities he wants to see in us, his followers. A quick focus on those qualities shows us that they are the very opposite of common and accepted standards and values: –

The world says, Blessed are the rich, because they can have anything they want. But Jesus says, Blessed are the poor in spirit. By poor in spirit he means those who put their trust in God rather than money; and those who admit that it is not their income, possessions or bank account that makes them rich in the eyes of God, but what kind of people they are.

The world says, Blessed are those who live it up, and never stop having fun. But Jesus says, Blessed are those who mourn. He means those who let themselves feel the misfortune, pain and sorrow of others, and who respond to them with understanding, sympathy, kindness, compassion, and practical assistance.

The world says, Blessed are the assertive and aggressive that talk tough and act tough. But Jesus says, Blessed are the gentle. Gentleness is not weakness, but a form of strength. St Francis de Sales used to say that you can catch more flies with a spoon full of sugar than a barrel full of vinegar. In Jesus book there ?’s just no place for bullies and bullying.

The world says, Blessed are those who hunger for power, status, and fame. But Jesus says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right. The only power and status we really need is to keep living in God ?’s way and to keep doing the right thing. More satisfaction and contentment will be found in living with a good conscience than in hanging out with the movers and shakers and wannabes of this world.

The world says, Blessed are those who show no mercy and who take no prisoners. But Jesus says, Blessed are the merciful. Happy are those who make allowances for the faults and sins of others, and whose greatness lies in their ability to forgive. They will receive mercy and forgiveness from God for their own sins.

The world says, Happy are those with clean fingernails, sparkling eyes, gleaming teeth, and unblemished skin. But Jesus says, blessed are those with clean hearts. It’s from the heart that all our thoughts, words, and actions flow. If the heart is clean, then everything that flows from it will be clean, as clean as water flowing from an unpolluted spring.

The world says, Blessed are those who get even and exact revenge. But Jesus says, Blessed are the peacemakers. Happy are those who spread understanding among people, those who welcome strangers, and those who work for a more just and equal society. They are truly the children of God.

The world says, Blessed are those who lie and cheat and get away with it. But Jesus says, Blessed are those who make a stand for what is right and true. They may suffer for their stand, but the wounds they bear will be marks of honour and integrity. Jesus practised what he preached. In his own person he was the beatitudes. Living them day after day made him the thoroughly good person he was. It ?’s the same for us too.

Today’s feast is not about the canonised saints but about all the good and holy people who have ever lived. None of us, I feel sure, is expecting to be a canonised saint. We don’t fantasise that one day some pope will declare what saints we were. We don’t expect that our picture is going to be revered on the walls of churches. Not for a moment do we imagine anyone saying prayers to us or preserving pieces of us as relics. But in its document on the Church, the Second Vatican Council wrote a chapter called The Universal Call to Holiness. So our Feast today is reminding us of our deep-down calling to become better people than we currently are! It is reminding us that Jesus Christ can and will empower us to practise what he preached and to live what we believe! Surely, then, we won t ever want to stop receiving him as our Bread of Life in Holy Communion!


Who is a saint?

Many of us have weird notions of what a saint looks like. Years ago, at the funeral in England of Princess Diana, Diana’s brother cautioned against making her into a kind of a saint. Addressing his dead sister he announced: ‘indeed to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour with the laugh that bent you double, your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile.’

But is it really true that the saints never broke the rules (St Augustine?), never experienced the dark night of the soul (The Little Flower?), never had a sense of humour? (‘God save us from sullen Saints’ — St Teresa of Avila), never broke into a great smile? The answer is, ‘of course it is not true.’ The saints were fully human. They struggled with temptation; they savoured life’s joy. On All Saint’s day I think of all the good people who have crossed my path and enriched my life — parents, class mates, parishioners here in the parish. They were not perfect, but they were in their own way great human beings.

The priest once asked the class: what do you have to do to become a saint? One hand shot up: ‘You have to die, Father’ said the little boy. In a sense of course he was right. But I think that I know many living saints who are truly living with the spirit of Christ and are on the way to eternal union with him.

Sanctity isn’t something we achieve. It is a divine impulse in which we share. It is much too big for us to experience alone. As we share in the experience of sin and death, so too can we share in holiness and life. Each person is already implanted with the Spirit and the grace of God. The main thing that can prevent us from living by the power of God’s grace is not being aware that we have it. We are all children of God, not later when we die, but now, at this very moment and all through our lives.

2 Responses

  1. Thara+Benedicta

    Key message:
    Suffering begets blessings from God.

    Homily:

    Takeaway from first reading:
    Where are the saints? The answer is provided in today’s first reading. The saints are standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb, fully clad in white, holding palm branches in hand victoriously, crying out joyously, “The credit for our Salvation belongs to our Almighty Father seated on the throne and to the Lamb.” Think about our infinite days in heaven, enjoying the company of God and saints!!
    As travellers on earth, let us take the route to Heaven.

    Takeaway from second reading:
    When Jesus taught us to pray, He is telling us to address ‘Almighty God’ as ‘Our Father’. Jesus is telling us that we are the Children of Almighty God. What a great privilege to be ‘Children of God’. When we reach Heaven, we can see our Almighty Father and call him ‘Pappa’ as our dear Lord Jesus taught us. Irrespective of our current worldly status – maybe we are poor/uneducated/single/widow/widower/orphan or any difficult place, we are still children of God. When there is no one for us, God our Father lovingly takes care of our needs. He will heal all our wounds. During trials, let us say, “O my dear Pappa, I know that you will never fail me; You are working on my problems.”

    Takeaway from Gospel reading:
    Let us learn the Beatitudes taught by Jesus, by considering the examples in the lives of saints.
    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
    The first attribute stated by our Lord Jesus in the Beatitudes is regarding ‘The poor in Spirit’. This shows that being “poor in spirit’ is the attribute most liked by God. What is meant by ‘the poor in spirit’? ‘Poor in spirit’ means being humble:
    1. Trusting God totally – not on self (after doing what the situation demands)
    2. Not thinking that I am greater than others
    3. Not willing to be known
    4. Treating everyone equally (irrespective of financial status/power/fame, etc.)

    Incident from the life of St. Thérèse, example citation for poor in Spirit: Excerpts taken from the Story of the Soul, Autobiography of St. Thérèse.
    One day, during recreation, the portress came to ask for a Sister to help her. I had a childish longing to do this work, and it happened the choice fell upon me. I therefore began to fold up our needlework, but so slowly that my neighbour, who I knew would like to take my place, was ready before me. The Sister who had asked for help, seeing how deliberate I was, said laughingly: “I thought you would not add this pearl to your crown, you are so extremely slow,” and all the Community thought I had yielded to natural reluctance. I cannot tell you what profit I derived from this incident, and it made me indulgent towards others. It still checks any feelings of vanity, when I am praised, for I reflect that since my small acts of virtue can be mistaken for imperfections, why should not my imperfections be mistaken for virtue? And I say with St. Paul: “To me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’s day. But neither do I judge myself. He who judges me is the Lord.”
    This simple story explains the fact that the poor in spirit are happier even when their good deeds are misinterpreted as faults. They do not belong to themselves but to God. St. Thérèse says, “There is no joy like that known by the truly poor in spirit.”

    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted:
    When we suffer after doing the right thing, the Holy Spirit comforts us. This we would have experienced at many instances in our personal life. Bible also calls the Holy Spirit as our comforter. God tries to be with His children always and comfort them during troubles as the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I will be with you till the end of this world.” Yes, He will comfort us.

    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth:
    We have seen in the life of Little Thérèse, that she will not talk out her case, even when she is judged unjustly. Once a little flower vase had broken in her convent. The sisters thought that Little Thérèse had broken it. Though Little Thérèse had not broken it, she knelt down, kissed the floor and asked pardon for the same. Though externally it looks like she has lost, actually she gained souls for Heaven and God recompensed by making her an example saint on earth.

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled:
    When you feel disturbed on seeing the injustice happening in the world, many people suffering for basic needs of life, children orphaned, elderly left uncared for, take an action item. Choose a single action item for yourself, which you will do till the end of your life. If you choose to take care of elderly by visiting them and giving them food, then continue doing the same as long as you live. Do not miss it. Then God will say “When you have done to these little ones, you have done it unto me.”

    Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
    Showing mercy is doing good to others when it hurts you. An example from life of Little Thérèse of Child Jesus:
    The Infirmarian had advised her to take a little walk in the garden for a quarter of an hour each day. This recommendation was for her a command. One afternoon a Sister, noticing what an effort it cost her, said: “Soeur Thérèse, you would do much better to rest; walking like this cannot do you any good. You only tire yourself!” “That is true,” she replied, “but, do you know what gives me strength? I offer each step for some missionary. I think that possibly, over there, far away, one of them is weary and tired in his apostolic labours, and to lessen his fatigue I offer mine to the Good God.”

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God:
    God is searching for people with pure heart. God can only work through people with pure heart. We have heard about the miracles of Saint Anthony – He was able to be in two places at the same time, fishes listening to his sermon, donkey bowing down in front of the sacrament and many more. Through Saint Anthony, God was able to bring salvation to many people. Because of the pure heart of Saint Anthony, God was able to use him mightily. He enjoyed the physical presence of Baby Jesus during his life on earth too.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God:
    God wants us to be peace makers for Him. When there is any probability of strife, it’s better to avoid strife. Do not intend to let your word have the last word. It’s okay if the other person has the last word. Making peace has higher priority than winning the game.

    Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
    Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you:
    We may not undertake big tasks like preaching to the non-christian community. But we may have challenges in living according to our christian standards, like not able to pray for fear of being mocked, not able to contribute extra hours to do some work for God. At these times, we need to pursue a closer walk with God – like going to some place of solitude and praying, mental prayers (talking whenever possible with God), teaching our children to lead a good christian life and being a blessing to everyone wherever and whenever possible.

    God will identify you and will seal you as His servant.

    Tips for transforming our inner self according to Beatitudes:

    1. Only if we focus on having a pure heart and work with God to transform us, can we attain purity of heart. If we follow our natural inclinations, our heart will be full of strategies to achieve our desires according to worldly measures only.
    2. The first and foremost step to have purity of heart is to understand that God is our Father and rely on Him totally. God wants us to allow Him to help us. If we are in a critical situation, whereby with some wrong manipulative action our problem can be solved, we need to trust God and do things God’s way. Then we can see that God will fight our battle and bring success in a surprising way.
    3. When you are frightened about trying to solve a particular problem, and you are not able to sleep, do not think and worry about it in bed. Instead get up, lift your hands up, raise your voice to our Father, calling Him ‘Pappa’ and talk it out openly with Him. Won’t a father listen to his child crying out for help? Our God is our Father who can never fail us.
    4. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted – For those who are children in their spiritual walk, God tries to comfort them almost immediately, or once the work in their soul for a particular task is done. But for matured souls like Little Thérèse, God allows them to suffer more, because these souls derive lots of joy through their sufferings for Jesus. So to a certain extent, sufferings themselves become their comfort on earth. God will recompense them in Heaven.

    Let’s spend time on walking the beatitudes peacefully, instead of relying on ourselves and worrying all the time.

  2. Kevin Walters

    Thara+Benedicta

    “Let’s spend time on walking the beatitudes peacefully, instead of relying on ourselves and worrying all the time.”

    If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that. Mother Teresa

    kevin your brother
    In Christ


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