Solemnity of All Saints – 1 November 2020
Lectionary Readings: Rev 7:2-4, 9-1; Ps 24:1-6; 1Jn 3:1-3; Matt 5:1-12a
Theme: Called to Holiness
The feast of All Saints dates from the 8th century when Pope Gregory III proclaimed November 1st to be the feast day which honors all the saints. We remember the great multitude of canonized saints who are proclaimed by the church, those who have lived virtuous and heroic lives, many of whom also died for their faith, leaving an outstanding example for others. In the early Church it was the custom that the term ‘saints’ referred to all believers as we read in Rom 1:7 and 1 Cor 1:2.
This feast commemorates also all the faithful who have lived very ordinary lives in their following of Christ. These faithful include our parents, grandparents and relatives – our ancestors – who passed on the faith to us. Thus we remember all people who have tried to live the universal call to holiness: “Be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16)
In Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Rejoice and be Glad,” (Matt 5:12), he emphasized, “The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless.” (Gen 17:1) (“The Call to Holiness in Today’s World.”)
Today’s readings are beautifully summed up in Psalm 24: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in his holy place?” In John’s letter, he refers to believers as ‘Children of God,’ those who have an intimate relationship with God. The Beatitudes are a primary focus in Matthew’s Gospel and describe the true disciple. “For Christians next to the 10 Commandments as an expression of God’s will, the 8 Beatitudes (5:3-12) have been revered for expressing succinctly the values on which Jesus placed priority.” (R. Brown, 178)
These proverb-like sayings are a summary of the teaching of Jesus: they capture the essence of his proclamation of the Kingdom of God. To follow Jesus, to be a disciple, one must become as the ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world.’ (5:13) Fitzmeyer states: “The form of Matthew’s sayings often reflects beyond a doubt the experience of the primitive Church and its meditation on the person and the words of Jesus.” (p. 63)
Jesus lifted the minds of his listeners to a higher plane for in their calling to live these blessings, they could make a lasting impact on the world. Instructing the apostles to make disciples of all nations they are to be the fulfillment of these promises. In living according to the teachings of Jesus, followers strive to live a holy life and thus as saints manifest the goodness and love of ‘their Father in heaven.’
For Reflection and Discussion: 1)Do I take this call to holiness seriously in my life and truly recognize my need for God? 2) Does my daily life reflect Gospel values or worldly values?
Bibliography: Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete Et Exsultate (Rome, 2018); Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (Doubleday, New York. N.Y. 1997); R.Brown, J.Fitzmeyer, R. Murphy, The Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1996)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Rita Kammermayer, nds, BA, B.Ed, Masters of Pastoral Studies Bat Kol Alumna: 2001