Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feast of All Saints 2009

Readings for November 1, 2009, Feast of All Saints:

All Saints 2009

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
October 1, 2009

All Saints 2009
By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas

The lives of the Saints, I think we can all agree, are different from the ordinary. I even recall a verse from scripture that says we are to be a peculiar people. Whatever that means we'll take a look at here for a little while. The life of the of each of us is for the most part a mixture of good and evil, whereas the lives of the saints are godly, characterizing holy lives. Holy, meaning a thing or person consecrated to God. Each of us begins a consecrated life at Baptism, referring to a moral and spiritual way of living. Now you may say that way of life is unattainable to me, and that is true by myself or yourself, but God sees things differently. For didn't Jesus say that all things are possible with God?

How many times have we read the Beatitudes as in Matthew's Gospel for today and they are a nice read and flows well but do we look to them for help in facing the challenges of daily life? They may even frustrates us, that they are not goal-oriented or even a guide to success. They don't even call to action. For example, "blessed are those who mourn." Can we decide to mourn? Should we aspire to grieve? How are we to understand the Beatitudes?

The Beatitudes are not a prescription of dos and don'ts, but a description of a happy and, do I dare say, a holy person. One whose life is committed to the will of God. These internal attitudes are an expression of what Jesus says are the source of blessedness or true happiness.

Jesus' eight beatitudes deserve more attention than is possible in the little time that we have, but we can take a brief look at least. The “poor in spirit” are the genuinely humble who trust, not in themselves as the prideful do, but completely in God.

Those "who mourn" refer primarily to those who are sorrowful in the recognition of their sin. They find comfort in God's love and grace. The "meek" are those who accept reality without anger or bitterness. They are not aggressive, presumptuous, or self-seeking, and they, ironically, inherit the earth. Those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness," for goodness and justice, are those who are eager to take moral action, as contrasted with those who care only about physical appetites. The "merciful" are those who show forbearance and compassion for someone who has no right to hope for kindness. The "pure in heart" are those who seek God's will with singleness of mind. The "peacemakers" are all who work for peace at any level, from interpersonal to international. Those who are "persecuted for righteousness' sake" are any who suffer for love, justice, or the will of God. All of these know blessedness.

The first four beatitudes have to do with our relationship with God, and the last four relate more to our relationships with one another. Seen in this way we can recall Jesus' response when asked to name the greatest commandment? Love God with your whole being, he said, and love your neighbor as yourself. The saints of our faith are being described in the Beatitudes, but Jesus gives them to ordinary people such as you and I. Maybe God sees more potential in us then we see in ourselves.

Jesus' Beatitudes identify for us those who are truly happy, internally happy. Even though the Beatitudes are not commandments as are the ten commandments but they never the less stand in judgment on our accepted ways of seeking happiness. We will make little progress in following Jesus until we have seen our misguided ways for what they are. The culture in which most of are immersed has little interest in humility, mourning, meekness, or purity of heart. Rather, it prizes pride, self-sufficiency, and self-indulgence. Money matters more then character, success more then integrity, and our sons and daughters receive this message ever day of their lives.

The sorrowful side of honest introspection, the meekness of genuine spiritual maturity, and the noble aspirations of the serious-minded are not worth much in our cultural markets. Our children and young people desperately need vital models of holy living, and they need an image of Jesus that has not been co-opted by the ruling principalities and powers.

Holy living is a possibility for everyone of us. We must begin where we are, confessing our sin, our need, and our longing for true blessedness. Lord we weep for what we have done and for what we have failed to do. We weep for the sins of those who should know better but who have turned from you. We weep for the social, economic, and political sins of our country and all the countries of the world. Have Mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and guide us into paths of Holy Living.

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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