Sunday Scripture reading, Nov. 1, 2020: Holiness for all
Solemnity of All Saints
1) Rv 7:2-4, 9-14
2) 1 Jn 3:1-3
Gospel: Mt 5:1-12
Holiness is one of the most powerful arguments for the truth of Christianity. The early Christians who lived under severe persecution, rejection and even martyrdom knew this well. Even as they experienced rejection, injustice and false accusations for their faith in Jesus Christ, they persevered in their Christian witness.
Their holiness of life, lived in the ordinary moments of each day, became a powerful force for change in society. Within a few hundred years the Roman Empire, once pagan and ruthless, was transformed by the power of faith and love through the ordinary witness of holiness by Christians, just like you and me.
In today's Gospel, Jesus gives his disciples the beatitudes as qualities that mark a saintly life. And as the church celebrates the feast of All Saints, we are reminded that holiness is not only for a select few in the church.
The saints are not perfect human beings. They are sinners who conform their life to Jesus in radical and simple ways. They responded to Jesus' call to reflect the pattern of his life, death and resurrection as the path to encounter God.
In giving his disciples the beatitudes, Jesus invited them, and each one of us, to walk in the same ways of holiness. You and I are called to be nothing less than saints!
"Holiness is the most attractive face of the church," said Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation "Gaudete et Exsultate" ("Rejoice and Be Glad"). In his most recent encyclical letter, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship," Pope Francis continues the theme of holiness as it shapes the web of our human relationships of friendship and social networks. To live the beatitudes is to change our lives and to change society through justice, compassion and peace.
One has only to read the daily headlines and news from around the world to know that the human condition is fragmented and broken. The world continues to struggle through a pandemic and the effects are felt economically and socially. The fragmentation of societies and cultures is seen in our neighborhoods, communities and society.
The beatitudes offer us a powerful alternative to the human condition marked by injustice, sin and greed. Being poor in spirit, meek, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers and ready to bear insults for the name of Jesus are all ways to be countercultural witnesses to the Gospel. These are ways in which we sow the seeds of love instead of hatred, peace instead of war, and compassion instead of selfishness.
As we celebrate the feast of All Saints, think of one saint who inspires and guides your life in a particular way. Reflect on how that saint is a model of the Christian virtues that the beatitudes describe. Then seek the same grace that inspired the life of that saint to help you as you strive to live the beatitudes in your daily life as you pray, "speak to me, Lord."
How am I called to become a saint?
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Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.