All Saints Day B

Why do we hear the Beatitudes on the Feast of All Saints? Well, for all the beauty of the beatitudes, we by now recognize there is an edge to them, a dark tinge.  We recognize that we do not invite all these “blessings” in our lives.  We do not want to be poor, we do not want to be known as meek, we certainly do not want to mourn.  When was the last time you said, “I had a great day except that nobody persecuted me.”

Knowing that the Saints are the ones who chose the tougher path, who endured the mourning and the persecution and indeed even martyrdom, one would have to conclude that is what made them saints. And you would be half right.  The truth is that they already knew they were saints and were able to love like the belonged to the kingdom of heaven.

Sure they had some advantages. Some talked to Jesus, others to Mary.  Many did miraculous and heroic things.  St. John Vainney listened to confessions for eighteen hours a day.  That is a lot of Hail Marys to give out in one day.  But what made them really capable of doing these tremendous acts for the Lord might look fairly familiar.  It is water poured forth from this font and promise, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Indeed, we are all capable of being saints. We can make the loving choice, the merciful choice all the time and the opportunities to act as saints act repeat themselves dozens of times a day.  The Beatitudes reveal such a challenge.  Oh, their familiarity and eloquence might cloak these moments when blessings are given and our reward is present.  What if we could re-think and re-hear them in the midst of our lives?  Could they sound like this?

Blessed are those who place their vulnerability above their security.

Blessed are they who place their sadness and their tears above the denial of their pain and the pain of others.

Blessed are they who place gentleness and the humility above rivalry and competition.

Blessed are they who place the desire for justice above complacency with the status quo.

Blesses are those who place forgiveness above the isolation of not forgiving, of not accepting the forgiveness of others.

Blessed are those who place simplicity and purity above drama and selfishness.

Blesses are those who place love of brother and sister above hatred and war.

Blessed are those who place their belief and values above public opinion and the judgment of others.

Blessed are those who endure the hurt of others to proclaim the kingdom of God.

These challenges are truly openings to know ourselves as God’s own; to become saints. They are more than a path of good behavior (I’m not sure good behavior is what gets us into heaven), they are a true call to love and happiness.

The French writer Leon Bloy wrote, “Life holds only one tragedy, not to be a saint. Yet, when I think of the beatitudes, I have come to believe that when God calls us to holiness, he is not asking something beyond the sky and lost in the stars.  He is asking us to be ourselves, our truest selves; to return to and trust the original love within all of us.  To give glory to God by living out the unrepeatable gift God has made each of us.  As we hear in the second reading, we are God’s children now.  Right now we are called to be disciples, right now we are Christ’s witness to the world, right now we are writing our own Gospel.   To live this out is our mission and to live this mission is bound to be our greatest happiness.  It can be true for all of us.  For we are all saints.