Solemnity of All Saints – November 6, 2022
Lectionary Readings: Rev. 7:2-4. 9-14; Ps. 23:1-6. 6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matt. 5:1-12
Theme: Living the Beatitudes
Today’s readings on the Solemnity of All Saints remind us of the beatitudes we are to take seriously in our lives. We are to strive to practice them and, like the saints, find our own holiness and happiness.
Matthew puts the setting of the sermon on the mountain in contrast to the plain that serves as the setting of the Lukan sermon (Luke 6:17-20a). This evokes ideas of mountains which are places of divine revelation in the Torah. In a homily given in 2000 on Mount of the Beatitudes, in Korazim, Israel, then Pope John Paul 11 said: “The first to hear the Beatitudes of Jesus bore in their hearts the memory of another mountain – Mount Sinai.” It was on Mt. Sinai where God spoke to Moses and gave the Law on “tablets of stone written with the finger of God” (Exod. 31:18).
Fishbane in his latest book,”Fragile Finitude” says: “The gifts of Sinai must be engraved on the heart, spiritual markers of a living covenant with God.” But each individual may give his own unique response “given the diversity of intellectual and spiritual intelligence.”
Citing Psalm 29:4 which says that the “voice of the Lord is powerful,” he says Sinai symbolizes the divine voice calling “Here” and “Now” at every moment. In the words of Bat Kol Institute founder, Maureena Fritz, the task is to “hear and do”: God’s voice to respond to God’s presence in our daily life.
Harrington (2207) says that the Sermon on the Mount is a challenge to “find in Jesus’ teaching the authentic interpretation of God’s will revealed in the Torah.” He cites echoes in form and content.
He says that the Beatitude form is familiar in the Hebrew Bible especially in the wisdom writing. Examples are: Psalm 1 where a man is declared “blessed” or “happy” when he is not in the counsel of the wicked, and Prov. 3:13; 28:14. Each Beatitude states that the possessor of this characteristic will be “blessed” by God. In the Sermon on the Mount, to be blessed are the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart and the peacemakers. These present echoes from the Hebrew Bible like the poor in spirit (Isa. 61:1-3), the mourners (Isa. 61:1-3), the meek (Ps. 37:11), those who hunger for thirst and righteousness (Ps. 107:5. 8-9), among others.
The Beatitudes though differ from the pattern of the wisdom books in the timing of the reward. In the wisdom books, the good actions are rewarded in the present. The promise of the Beatitude is mainly eschatological, as taught by Jesus, when God’s kingdom comes.
In his 2000 homily, Pope John Paul said: “The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes speak of truth and goodness, of grace and freedom: of all that is necessary to enter into Christ’s Kingdom.” Both voices from a mountain challenge the believer to hear and do God’s voice, have a change of heart and lifestyle to do God’s will and commandments for blessings in the here and now and in life hereafter.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1.Think of a saint you admire. What do you think was her or his life’s main beatitude? 2) What is the easiest beatitude to practice? What is the hardest? Why?
Bibliography: Harrington. Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Matthew (Minnesota: 2007); Fishbane. Fragile Finitude: A Jewish Hermeneutical Theology (Chicago: 2021); Homily of John Paul II, Mass for Youth at the Mount of Beatitude, March 24, 2000 in http://www.vatican.va downloaded on October 30, 2022
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Philippines, Bat Kol alumna July 2014