Celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints

The Sermon on the Mount, from the Sistine Chapel, c.1481-83 (fresco) by Rosselli, Cosimo (1439-1507)
fresco; Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City, Italy

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Mt 5:1-12)

This is the Gospel reading for the Solemnity of All Saints.  Many persons, even amongst those who make no profession of faith in Christ as possessing a divine nature, are familiar with this passage from the Gospel of Matthew, if only for its literary merit.  This passage, however deserving of recognition for said merit, must be understood to be among the greatest of spiritual teachings regarding the blueprint for human existence ever to have been uttered by a man (Who was additionally divine).  Simply put, it is the most succinct, elegant and eloquent explanation of what Chapter Five of Lumen Gentium refers to as “The Universal Call to Holiness.”  The “Sermon on the Mount,” as the passage is sometimes refered to, is the most accurate depiction of what the life of a “saint” will look like while he or she is making his or her earthly pilgrimage through the dry and barren desert of this life, like the Israelites of old, being fed by God with a miraculous “Bread from Heaven” that strengthens, sustains and nourishes them along the way, in search of the “Promised Land,” that eternal City of God.  For the Israelites of old, that city was Jerusalem, which pre-figured the New Jerusalem, the eternal City of God, or “Heaven,” where the poor in spirit find eternal rest; those who mourn find the greatest of all possible comforts and rejoice; the meek and the humble, who, so often on earth, find themselves in the last place, suddenly are first; those who reject the allure of earthly pleasures are rewarded with the greatest possible gift of God Himself; those who forgive are forgiven; those who hold no malice in their hearts are rewarded with the vision of God; and those who are mocked, rejected, branded, and stigmatized as right-wing religious “fanatics” stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, confessors, and all of God’s great saints.    

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