Reading I: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
Reading II: 1 John 3:1-3
GOSPEL: Matthew 5:1-12a
Trick or Treat?
Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount by clearly listing the Beatitudes – a roadmap for “perfect happiness or blessedness” – and I’m sure his listeners thought it was a trick; because being told to go against almost everything they had been taught (and believed) certainly wasn’t a treat!
In those days, sickness and poverty were clear signs of personal sins being punished by a displeased God, which isn’t too far from what we still believe today. If you disagree with that, just stop and think: How often do we talk about someone who is rich or famous as being blessed? (“They should be happy with all the blessings they’ve received!”) How many athletes make a great play, then point to heaven to show that it was really God blessing them? (And – what? – punishing the other team?) How often do we see someone holding a cardboard sign that reads “will work for food” and think to ourselves, “Now there is someone who has lived a good life and is surely blessed?” (I’m guessing – never?)
All Saints Day isn’t About Dying
All Hallows Eve – better known in the U.S. as Halloween – has become a night to dress up in a costume and walk around our neighborhoods asking for free candy. It’s become so secularized and commercialized that I’m not surprised most Christians don’t use it as a day to ask for God’s blessing and for protection from evil. But we really should spend at least a little time focusing on the day after Halloween – All Saints Day – when we celebrate “the communion of saints.”
The communion of saints are all of those whom we believe are in heaven, through both God’s grace and their acceptance of it, which was demonstrated by the goodness and righteousness of their actions in this life. And in case you were wondering why the Gospel on the Feast of All Saints is the Beatitudes – well, there’s the connection!
All Saints Day is About Living!
In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us a prescription for living our lives as his disciples. He spells out, in no uncertain terms, that there are specific virtues we must embrace in order to inherit the Kingdom of heaven. He tells us how to live in order to accept the salvation offered by God.
Of course, the challenge is that most of these virtues promise future reward while asking us to go against almost all of the material and worldly things we’ve been taught to value. Being humble, meek, needy, merciful, and pacifistic is a recipe for being marginalized in modern day America! Why would Jesus ask us to do that? This is a trick, right?
Regardless of what the “God-fearing Christians” among those who are ever-expanding the military industrial complex would have us believe, “might” does not make “right.” Just look closely at the virtues that Jesus lays out in the Beatitudes. Every single one of them describes those among us who are the most needy and disenfranchised because they are closer to God. Being a titan of industry or a leader in government might make you feel more powerful on earth but will it help you join the communion of saints? Once you’ve passed on from this life, will we be celebrating you on the Feast of All Saints, or praying for your soul on All Souls Day?
The choice is ours and we make it every day with the beliefs we hold, the words we say, and the actions we take. The Lord has offered us salvation and shown us the way – but we still have to make the journey and enter through the narrow gate. The Beatitudes might seem like a trick but Christ has shown us the path we need to take, and that’s a far better treat than any candy ever could be!
Do you value meekness, humility, and need? Why or why not?
How does your vision for a successful life align with Jesus’ description of a disciple?
What small changes can you make today to live the Beatitudes more fully?
Original article Brandon Jubar, 2020.