Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
1 John 3:1-3
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Good News Reflection: Your own sainthood
YOU are a saint. Don’t argue with me, I know you’re a saint, because a saint is anyone who’s either in heaven or on their way to heaven by following Christ. In the Apostle’s Creed we say, “I believe in the communion of saints….” That includes you! It’s the whole community of Christ-followers.
As followers of Christ, we have been redeemed from the power of sin. We have been reborn as “saints” and are no longer “sinners.” Yes, we do sin every day; we have not yet perfected our sainthood. So we grow in holiness by becoming more and more who we truly are. This is life as an earthly saint.
Look at today’s first reading. We could see this as a huge prayer meeting in heaven, but it’s not just about the after-life. You, right now, are part of that “great multitude” when you worship God enthusiastically. Every time we praise God, we’re joining ourselves to the whole communion of saints, including our loved ones who left earth in the Lord’s arms.
We’re also united to them after our sins are absolved in the mercy of God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for then we, too, have “washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Until the next time we sin, we’re on the Lord’s mountain, standing in a holy place, because our hands are sinless, our hearts are clean, and we are not desiring what is vain (as the responsorial Psalm says).
The same unity occurs when we receive the Eucharist after making a heartfelt journey through the prayers of repentance and requests for forgiveness that the Church provides during each Mass. (Oops, until we get mad at the guy in the parking lot who briefly blocks our escape from church into the world.)
As the second reading points out, we are saints because we are God’s children. The saints in heaven have the advantage of being free from evil, while we live in a sin-filled world. But notice how we become pure: The hope (i.e., belief in God’s promise) that eventually we’ll behave like Christ all the time should energize us to purge our lives of unholiness now. This hope is based on knowing that Christ redeems us from sin, the Father forgives us, and after death, whatever clean-up still remains to be done, it will be accomplished thanks to purgatory.
The Gospel reading reminds us that we are saints because we are blessed. Isn’t anything that God blesses made holy? Therefore, any person whom God blesses is made holy by his love: the poor in spirit, those who mourn and receive the Holy Spirit’s comfort, the meek who submit to God’s will, and so on down the list of beatitudes. Meditate on each blessing and notice your sainthood and the challenge to become more saintly by improving how you live the truth of each beatitude.
The Church canonizes saints so we can have role models and so we know they’re available for prayer support to assist us on our journey to heaven. We should not compare our lives to theirs, however, for we all have different circumstances in which to grow in holiness. We can only compare ourselves to what we used to be like. Meanwhile, we can pray with the saints and accept their spiritual guidance.
When I give You, Lord, all my hardships, You comfort me in a special way and grant me the eternal reward! Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica