31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

 

I want to be in that number

Readings: Rev 7, 2-4.9-14; Ps 24, 1-2.3-4ab.5-6; 1 Jn 1, 1-3; Mt 5, 1-12a

Dear fellow saints!

The celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints gives us an opportunity to contemplate in a special the plan that God has for each one of us. He calls us to share His holiness and shows us the journey we are to make while still in the world which will lead us to the fulfillment of all our desires. God completes the good work that He has started in us all. Our ancestors in faith (the saints) challenge us to let the grace of God transform us while living holy lives here on earth. To be saints means to be “children of God”.

Baptism is the seal of God

The first reading from the book of revelation points us to a seal that God puts on his people. By virtue of our Baptism we have been sealed, thus, claimed for God. With Baptism a journey starts which leads us to the eternal communion with the Father. Jesus is the way that leads us to the Father (Jn 14, 6). At the same time, He is the Good Shepherd leading us to the waters of eternal life (see Ps 23). The solemnity of all the saints invites us to celebrate the triumph of God’s grace working among those who are ready to yield their lives to Him by following Christ. In the eyes of the world surrendering one’s life to Jesus seems like a loss but instead it means entrusting one’s life to the Lamb to whom salvation, power, honour and might belong for ever and ever (Rev. 7, 12). After enduring all the tribulations that come one’s way on account of being a disciple, a crown of righteousness awaits the faithful followers of the Lamb. These are very many and are known only by God. The letter to the Hebrews refers to a “cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. Their example encourages us to throw off everything that hinders us so that we may run with perseverance the race marked out for us (see Heb 12, 1).

Prescriptions for the race

Jesus presents the journey to eternal beatitude through His teaching and living the beatitudes. He wants His disciples to experience true happiness (blessedness). True happiness in this world is characterized by the deep paradoxes of Christian life. Those who are least likely to be happy (the poor, those who mourn, those persecuted etc.) are, according to the logic of Jesus, already living in the beatitude for which we were all designed and for which we all long. Is this really a recipe for good life? Yes. Try it! It must be clear that the life of the beatitudes that Jesus proposes makes no sense to the worldly minded. Perhaps this is the reason why His Kingdom is not of this world. We must keep in mind that Jesus Himself lived the beatitudes which he talked about. The Church reminds us today that our human history is full of people who said “amen” to the beatitudes by fully opening themselves to the work of Christ in them and through them. The saints are clear examples that the paradoxes of the beatitudes really produce happiness. Let us not only venerate the saints but also imitate their example and allow Christ transform us into His friends. The many struggles, setbacks, and possible persecutions and humiliations should prove our faithfulness to the Lamb we are following! Get to know at least one saint (preferably your patron saint) and find out any element you can imitate! Rely on the constant intercession of the saints in the presence of God!

Communion of saints in the world

As we make our journey on earth, we ought to remember that we are in transit. Our true home is in heaven. St. Catherine of Siena is believed to have said that “all the way to heaven is heaven.” This calls us to choose consciously the way that leads us to the beatific vision of God. It is enough to know the right direction. This means that we are to be single-hearted and not scattered in our many loves, many priorities, many longings. We do this consciously that all our desires will be fulfilled by Him who has called us into life so that we many know Him, love him, serve him and be happy with him forever (purpose of human existence). The goal of this journey has practical consequences for our life in the world. Our choice of God does not exclude others. We choose God by choosing to serve others. As we make our journey towards God, let remember that we are heading for a communion presented to us as an eternal meal prepared by God for all nations (Is 25). In heaven there are no individualists. Whoever wishes to enjoy heaven alone might end up being lonely in hell (see the parable of long spoons to show the difference between heaven and hell. In hell people cannot cooperate and consequently starve. In heaven, the diners feed one another across the table and are sated). You can’t go to heaven alone! Our community life here on earth proves that we are journey-companions heading for an eternal communion. We, the pilgrim Church, shall join the many brothers and sisters who have completed their journey (triumphant Church) in the eternal hymn of praise and say: “This is our God; we looked to Him, and He has saved us! This is the Lord to whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!” (Is 25, 9). When we shall appear in front of God, bruised by the broken world, then He shall wipe away the tears from our eyes. (See Is 25, 8 and Rev 7, 17). What a joy that will be! I want to be in that number.


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