Solemnity of All Saints
November 1, 2020
One of the saddest moments in my priesthood occurred many years ago, when I was called to the hospital as a young couple–good friends of mine–lost their first child. At the funeral they asked me to read the Gospel we hear today—the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…Blessed are those who show mercy.” It was the same Gospel they had chosen for their wedding the year before. They said they now understood more fully what these words of Jesus meant. They now knew that life held both joys and sorrows. They were still able to make an act of faith knowing that being a Christian meant living even this moment of deep sorrow and grief as “blessed.” As I preached the funeral homily I realized that these two truly understood what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
The Beatitudes offer us a blueprint for our saintly calling. The marvelous thing about the Beatitudes is that they are perhaps the most realistic description of human living that we can find. Everyone experiences life as the Beatitudes spell it out! We have at times felt poor–materially perhaps or in spirit; we have known sorrow; we have received insults or persecutions; we have had the chance to show mercy, to make peace, to be dedicated, and have thirsted for what’s right. And Jesus tells us that we’re blessed–that we truly ought to “be glad and rejoice”–for we have the opportunity to be part of the feast of the saints in heaven.