This liturgy and those of tomorrow (All Souls) are recallings of those faithful who have gone before we are gone. We have all known good and holy people of our pasts. We have all lost loved persons whom we carry gently in our memory and prayer.
These days leading up to Sunday's celebration I would suggest our recalling the women and men whom we would privately and/or communally name as saints.
There would be childhood saints to bring up on our memory-screens. We might reflect on those who taught us of the love of God. Just a hint, who trusted that love in the midst of their own sufferings.
Going through the decades of our days, we would prepare well by recalling names and faces and perhaps voices who form the prayerful pages of our scrapbook of saints. Who assisted God in bringing you to life and living through life's dark-days?
This form of literature was popular before the compilation of this book. The prophets of Israel had visions of how things would be especially concerning the exiles. Their theme is centered around hope and trust. The sufferings of the present are leading into a brighter future. Communities under harsh conditions need the encouragements both from within and outside the group. This is where our Reading gets its importance and power.
There are many symbols within this book and in reading such literature it is not being faithful to the text to disregard the meaning of such symbols appropriate for that time and interpret those symbols for this present age. It is somehow enjoyable to predict our future as a church, nation, continent or world, or revise history, according to the symbols in this book. For example, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt are not the four angels described in our First Reading!
It might be interesting to find out who these angels were, what was the "seal" which was to be put on the foreheads of the "servants" of God. If you are interested, find a good scripture commentary for studying this book. For our liturgy we have instead a wonderful picture of twelve times twelve thousand people who have endured the persecution and are singing God's praises after it all. All peoples are envisioned as gathered together in profound worship and thanksgiving.
The Gospel is Matthew's presentation of the spiritual platform Jesus will stand upon and to which He will invite others to join Him there. These are His basic invitations for real living as did Moses present his laws-for-life upon a mountainside. These are the characteristics of those who desire a participation in the life He would live and for which He would die.
Holy are the “poor in spirit” because of God’s goodness to them and through them. What is “poor of spirit” is precisely that they know they have received what they are.
Holy are they who “mourn”. Grieving is a most human sense of loss. This dramatic invitation flows from the same spirit of poverty. The holiness of God shared with us does not deny the feelings of our hearts. The Lord gives us life so as to lead us beyond this living. Happy then are the holy who know that they love enough to cry.
The holiness of God allows a holy meekness which does not need to raise a defensive fist, but an open hand to receive life as it is offered. That holiness, blessedness, is generous in the face of oppression, humble or honest as it confronts mystery. It is not passive in response to life, but shows up in the presence of obstinate power.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness participate in the love of God Who seeks orderliness. Justice is a rightness. It invites a life of gratitude to God who has given everything and actually does not belong to anyone exclusively. Self righteousness is different. It is a life based on the belief that our actions are what make us righteous. This thirsting on our part is a reflection of the desire for God to share what godliness we can handle.
Happy are they who reveal the mercy and healing of the divine Peacemaker. Happy those whose hearts are pure enough to allow God to be seen. This last one is a doozy. Being insulted and persecuted we are invited to rejoice when we experience falsehoods spoken against us. We can be, by the way we live and make choices, insulted and denounced. This happens when others are insulted by our being who we are. The rejoicing comes from our being intensely identified as followers of Jesus. Being persecuted, insulted and lied about is an indication of just how closely we do follow Him who so knew who He was that "sticks and stones" could break His bones, but falseness never hurt His name.
“Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep a festival in honor of all the saints.”
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook