In the times of great persecutions of the early Church, there were so many martyrs that it was impossible to commemorate each one on an individual day. Eventually, when the Church was given an old Roman temple to “All the gods,” [pan = all; theos = gods], the Pantheon became a place to honor All the Saints and this great feast was born.
Today we honor all the holy women and men who have gone before us, trusting in God’s fidelity. We can each remember our own parish church as the “temple” which reminds us all the time that there is hope for us, because God has been faithful to our brothers and sisters before us.
Today we have the Beatitudes for our reflection. We have to let the beatitudes be the counter-cultural “good news” that they are.
Today, Jesus is saying to each of us: Be surprised by what’s a blessing in your life. It’s not a blessing to be “spiritually rich” or to be full of success. It’s not a blessing to “win” all the time. In fact, we have to almost turn upside down all our notions of blessedness, if we are to hear the “good news” Jesus brings us.
When we find ourselves “spiritually poor” we have nowhere else to turn but God. In our poverty we discover who our Savior is. In our poverty we open our hands and our hearts and can really pray.
When we find ourselves small or mourning or starving for justice that has eluded us, we have nowhere else to turn but God. In this helplessness we long for a Savior to comfort and satisfy us.
When we find that our heart has known God’s mercy for our sins and has been purified by all the pain and wounds we have received, and we can offer forgiveness and mercy to others, actually becoming a peace maker, then we are ready for a special blessedness. Mercy will remain in our hearts and we will become children of God who can see our God face to face.
And when our trust in God earns us the ridicule of the world and our standing on the side of the poor and marginal leads to real rejection by the world, then we can really “rejoice and be glad” for we have been wrapped in what the Kingdom, the Reign of God is all about. For then we can look up at the Cross and give thanks and praise. For then we know that ours is the reward of all the martyrs and saints who have gone before us, marked with the sign of our faith.
All you saints of God, intercede for us this day, that we might see and believe in the Good News of the Cross and Resurrection in our daily lives.
This reflection was written by by Andy Alexander, S.J., in 2006.