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Autor: Father Eamonn O’Higgins, LC | Fuente: Sacerdos: Resources for Priests
All Saints
November 1st, 2005 Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Theme of the Readings

All the readings of today’s solemnity refer, in different ways, to the Kingdom of Heaven. St. John’s Letter reminds his listeners that they have now, through God’s love, become God’s children. Even so, the visible, external manifestation of this reality has not yet been revealed. All we know is that, in some way, we will be like God. The reference to ‘the world’ is to those people who refused to accept Jesus’ teaching and example.

The Book of Revelation presents two imaginative visions – the life of the Christian on this earth and the assembly of the Kingdom of Heaven. Those ‘marked with the seal’ (v.5) on earth, those identified as Christian, appear to be protected by God in the midst of great turbulence. The second vision is of Heaven, with particular emphasis on those wearing white robes, those who ‘have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb’ (v.14). These are men and women who have become Christian in their earthly lives and have been transformed by remaining firm in ‘the time of great distress’ (v.14).

Psalm 24 asserts God’s sovereignty over all creation and points to the necessary conditions for those who wish to approach Him: ‘one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain’ (v.3).

St. Matthew’s Gospel presents the well-known passage of the beatitudes and Our Lord’s clear and paradoxical teaching on the right dispositions towards this life for anyone who aspires to the Kingdom of Heaven. The ‘beatitudes’ (we may have become too used to the title to appreciate its paradoxical nature) refer to signs and dispositions we would probably consider misfortunate, but that, from a Christian perspective, are reassuring. First of all we are told to be spiritually detached from goods and possessions. We are told to be merciful, just and pure of heart. We are to count suffering as a spiritual blessing. We are to work for peace and justice. Especially, we are to count as a blessing all insults and persecution because of our Christian faith. We are told that our reward in Heaven will be great.

Doctrinal Message

A supernatural destiny: All of the readings refer with certainty to another life or existence beyond the visible boundaries of this earthly life. This is the destiny of each person and it is only in reference to this eternal (and for us future) life that the circumstances of this life make sense. The inner experience, at least in foretaste, of this joyous Kingdom is promised now to those who open their lives to the action of God and act accordingly. As we are bound to what we see and hear in our visible world, the Church makes present the spiritual birth and growth of Christian life through visible signs that signify what we cannot see. As life passes we can capture a little more the spiritual reality of the Kingdom of God that surrounds us. Death is the final barrier that lifts the veil on our limited vision.

Catechism references: paragraphs 1020-1029 refer to everlasting life and Heaven.

Inner transformation:
the individual acceptance (or rejection) of the Kingdom of God in this life is also a process with stages and requires the active search for and practical assimilation of spiritual reality experienced through the sensible world. In the light of our supernatural destiny each Christian is invited to base his or her life on Gospel realities. Jesus insists that it is more important what happens within us, and within others, than outside of us.

Catechism references: paragraphs 2338-2347 refer to the integrity of the person, self-mastery and the integrality of the gift of self.

Pastoral Applications
We become accustomed to ways of living and a routine in daily life. Even after great personal upheavals we have a capacity to resettle on our foundations. The question is on what and on whom we base our security.

The Church Fathers taught that man has but one, supernatural, destiny. This may be hard for us to appreciate as we live in a mentality that is so profoundly secular that we cannot imagine any other form of fulfillment if not in terms of what we know here and now. Even so, this supernatural destiny is not some type of extra prize for a good life on earth; it is the only satisfactory fulfillment for the deep, eternal desires that we experience within us now.

We are not peaceful creatures; we are restless, searching people constantly trying to find that which pulls us forward in hope.

Immanent forms of thought bind us to the illusion of an earthly paradise; something that we know cannot be fulfilled in any permanent way in this life. In death, it is I who finally fail.

Talk of Heaven seems to many to be something of a childish theme, a mythical story told to explain what we do not know, hardly justified in reality. And yet, we fail to appreciate how absurd this life is if there is nothing more than death. Our actions seem to show our desire and existential belief in more than this life offers, even if our intellectual propositions do not extend beyond the here and now.

Christianity itself stands or falls on the reality of spiritual and eternal life. The ‘beatitudes’ are indeed a useless folly if they do not presuppose eternal life. Spontaneously we live on the presumption that we will live forever and that we will achieve that what is mysteriously behind each of our desires and goals. Why do we not open our minds as well to the fact of eternal life?


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