October 28, 2009

All Saints

By Brian Pizzalato *
First Reading – Rev. 7:2-4, 9-14

Responsorial Psalm – Ps. 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Second Reading – 1 Jn. 3:1-3

Gospel Reading – Mt. 5:1-12a

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. The Church, in proclaiming Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes, instructs us on how we can become part of the church triumphant by living a saintly life now.

One point must be made abundantly clear, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity” (1717). Therefore, the Beatitudes are another way of saying we must be like Christ. The Beatitudes are about imitating Christ, and it is in imitating Christ that we will be blessed in this life and in the life to come.

Jesus was poor in spirit, which means he was humble. For us, it means recognizing, in truth, our own spiritual condition. St. Paul speaks about Christ’s humility. He says, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves…Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be [exploited], but emptied himself, taking the form of a [slave], being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:3, 5-7).

Jesus mourned over the spiritual condition of his people. Jesus cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37).

Jesus was indeed meek, which is not even close to meaning that he was weak. Meekness is strength controlled by God. Jesus tells us to, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am [meek] and [humble] in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Jesus hungered and thirsted for righteousness sake. At his baptism Jesus tells John the Baptist to baptize him because “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Being righteous means doing the will of the Father, which Jesus would do from beginning to end. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays, “…not as I will, but as thou will” (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus was perfectly merciful. He tells his followers to be as merciful as the heavenly Father was merciful in the sending of his merciful son. The whole of Christ’s life was to bestow mercy upon everyone he met. This is obvious through his encounter with the lepers, the lame, the blind, etc. However, his mercy is based on truth. Mercy does not mean ignoring sinfulness, but calling the sinner to holiness. He was merciful even to the Pharisees by castigating them for their self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

Jesus was pure of heart. The pure of heart shall see God, and this Jesus did. John tells us, “No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:18). Jesus is the Word who was with God, and was God, in the beginning. Jesus contrasts a pure heart with a defiled heart in order to help us understand purity of heart. He says, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19).

Jesus was a peacemaker. St. Paul says, “He [Jesus] is our peace…And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near…” (Ephesians 2:14, 17). The Letter to the Hebrews tells us to “strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). So we don’t misunderstand peace, Fr. Servais Pinkaers, O.P. notes, “Those who have an inner love for peace are certainly most likely to spread peace around them; even to fight for it. The peaceful person is not necessarily a mild, timid creature who cannot take a stand” (The Pursuit of Happiness – God’s Way, p. 146). Jesus was a peacemaker who surely was not mild, timid, or unwilling to take a stand.

Jesus was persecuted and reviled. Peter tells us, “…Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps…when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on a tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:21b, 23-24a).

The Beatitudes “shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life…they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints” (CCC, 1717).
Brian Pizzalato is the Director of Catechesis, R.C.I.A. & Lay Apostolate, Diocese of Duluth and is a faculty member of the Philosophy department of the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England.

Brian writes a monthly column, “Veritatis Splendor,” for The Northern Cross of the Diocese of Duluth and his 33-part series on the sacraments for The Northern Cross have also been posted on Catholic News Agency's website, where he also authors a weekly column, “Road to Emmaus,” on the Sunday Readings, (which are translated into Romanian and posted on www.profamilia.ro).

Pizzalato is currently authoring the regular series, "Catechesis and Contemporary Culture," in The Sower, published by the Maryvale Institute. He is also author of the Philosophy of Religion course book for the B.A. in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition at the Maryvale Institute.

Brian holds an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics specialization and an M.A. in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Brian currently pursuing an M.A. in Biblical Studies at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO as well as being a Ph.D. candidate at the Maryvale Institute. Brian is married and has six children.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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