The story of All Saints is about God’s magnificence; made in God’s image, saved by His grace. On this Feast, the Church celebrates the beauty of creation which calls our attention to God's ultimate plan for humanity, to know God, to love Him, to worship Him on earth, then unite with Him in eternity. My challenge for you today is to try weighing yourself on the "scale of blessedness."
The Book of Revelation describes the “great trial” that will come before the full manifestation of the Lamb’s victory. The first group mentioned in that vision represents the house of Israel. From every tribe, “one hundred and forty-four thousand” are marked. Next, a multitude which cannot be counted represents different races, nations, people, and tongue. This image shows those who do God’s will will be gathered from all parts of the world. They wear white robes and hold palm branches in their hands. They worship God eternally. Having lived like God’s children on earth, they now enjoy the fullness of beatific vision chanting God’s praises, “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” These have survived the time of great distress and have washed their robes.
The image of transformation in this passage is significant -these are made “white in the Blood of the Lamb.” Why white and not red? Blood would ordinarily stain anything it touches. But rather than become stained, these people are made white. It means that the blood of the lamb has the cleansing power which purifies. These become transformed, sanctified, radiant, and purified through the precious blood of the lamb. Picture the transfiguration episode when Jesus' "face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light" (Matt. 17:2). Those who are washed in the blood of the lamb become permanently transfigured to behold the face of God. They score high on the “scale of blessedness.”
Jesus gives the key to transformation in the beatitudes. Through a life of blessedness, spiritual needs, hunger, and yearnings fulfil themselves in Christ. The Blessed will see God as he really is, because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
The lessons in the beatitudes reveal themselves as follows:
1. the poor in spirit, will inherit the kingdom of heaven
2. those who mourn will be comforted
3. the meek will inherit the land
4. those wo hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied
5. the merciful will obtain mercy
6. the clean of heart will see God
7. the peacemakers will be called God’s children
8. those who experience Christian persecution will be rewarded with God's kingdom.
Maybe a little exercise to practically assess how you are doing on the scale of blessedness will help on All Saints Day. Of those eight scales (beatitudes) put up by Christ, where would you find yourself?
As believers, Jesus invites us to a life of holiness. The closer our friendship with God, the more we become like Him, and the higher we score on the scale of blessedness. Our measurement tool is openness to God’s grace. Think about these questions:
· How much do I show love?
· How much do I forgive?
· How much do I give peace?
· How much do I show mercy?
· How much do I bear wrong patiently?
· How much do I bring humility and meekness in my relationships?
· How much do I hope amidst suffering and persecution?
· How much do I help the poor, the downtrodden, and the orphans?
We’re all called to sainthood through living the beatitudes. Not that we’re already perfect, but we constantly seek God’s grace to become better. Imagine someone like St. Ignatius of Loyola, one of the greatest saints in the church. Ignatius was the most unlikely man to become a saint. He loved fighting as a soldier. He had issues with lust. He possessed an explosive temper. He was prideful. He struggled with clinical depression. No one would have pegged Ignatius for sainthood.
However, discovering the joy and contentment of friendship with Jesus Christ, Ignatius began to live a life of blessedness. He became a great saint. He established the spiritual exercises and order of priests called the Society of Jesus, (a.k.a. the Jesuits). In the beatitudes, Christ is inviting each of us into a real relationship with God. Holiness can be is exciting and attractive, because God is never boring. It is a grace-filled life which aspires to God’s goal for creation.
St. John reminds us, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be, has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” What an invitation into Christ’s mission, a mission not diminished by challenges and oppositions against the Christian life here on earth. It is a mission of hope, “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure as he is pure” (1 Jn. 3:3).
Today, let’s look to Christ. Let’s invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints to help us. Even if you score low on the scale of blessedness now, keep striving. Keep being open to God’s grace. Keep working on your goal which should be to make heaven. It’s an ongoing commitment, made possible by the standards of the beatitudes. As the child saint, Dominic Savio says, “Ask Jesus to make you a saint. Afterall, only He can do that.” Choosing to be a saint can be fun.
Readings: 1st- Rev. 7:2-4, 9-14; 2nd- 1 Jn.3:1-3; Gospel- Matt. 5:1-12