Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, transferred from Saturday 1st November because of a decision of the Bishops of England and Wales that Holy Days of Obligation (other than Christmas!) that fall on a Saturday or Monday are transferred to the Sunday. (The Solemnity of All Souls, which normally falls on 2nd November is, this year, transferred to Monday 3rd November.)
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.’ Matthew 5:1-12
The words of the Beatitudes offer great reassurance and peace. But it is a reassurance that comes from acknowledging, confronting, the things that in this life often disturb our peace: striving for justice; mourning; working for peace; experiencing persecution; being gentle even if the cost of one’s gentleness is being taken advantage of.
Jesus says that blessed, happy, are those who seek to live the values of the Kingdom, of heaven, even on earth. They are this not because of their own efforts only – though living this way is often quite some effort. Living this way, one needs the help of the grace and the love of God. This is the way of faithfulness, and faith – among other things – is always something to do with our response to what God has already done.
On this day that we remember our call to sanctity and rejoice that that call has been answered so fully and so generously by so many, it is also worth while taking time to think how does Jesus himself exemplify these virtues.
- What parables show us the way into the different beatitudes?
- What stories from Jesus’ life exemplify the beatitudes?
- Where/when have we experienced these virtues in the Lord’s speaking to and caring for us?
Photograph is a view across the hill of Beatitudes, Galilee, down to the sea of Galilee. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.