Homily for the Feast of All Saints - Year C - Mt. 5:1-12
Father Daniel Meynen
"Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.' "
"Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him."
Today, the Church remembers all the men and women, of every age and of every nation, of every language and of every culture, who have been allowed to forever participate in the glory of God in Heaven! From the time of the Creation of man, an immense multitude, a countless assembly of human beings has gathered together before God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! It is all of these creatures that the Church celebrates on this most blessed of days!
Except for the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all of the saints of Heaven live in the abode of God without their body, which they have left behind on earth: only their soul is in Heaven, with God. However, when we who are still alive on earth think of them, we form, with the saints of Heaven, but a single Body of Christ: in a certain sense, the inhabitants of Heaven have already regained their body through our prayer. For prayer makes it possible for man to be saved in hope, but saved in both body and soul, thus anticipating the coming of the Lord and the Resurrection of bodies.
When we pray, our entire being is required: our soul and our body, both in causes and in effects. Let us recall the intense prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: the anguish of his soul was so great that it was reflected in his very body, so much so that the Lord sweated what appeared to be drops of blood (cf. Lk. 22:44). How many times have we not seen the soul's prayer heal partially, or even completely, a disease of the body! So then, why not think - at least on this day, the feast of all saints - that our prayer, however simple, might serve to obtain for the inhabitants of Heaven a certain happiness, that of already regaining their own body, even before it is resurrected by the Lord?
We have come to church on this feast out of love, certainly, but also out of obligation. For the Church requires attendance at Mass on All Saints' day. But why such an obligation? Why be obliged to participate in the Eucharist each Sunday and on each holy day of obligation? Today, one often hears: "Yes, I believe in God, I pray, but I do not go to Mass..." For some - I dare not say, for many - one should no longer speak of obligation in religion: "Commandments of God? Perhaps... if there is no way around it... But commandments of the Church? Certainly not!" Now, the Church is the Body of Christ; a Body whose Head - or ruler - is Christ...
"He sat down his disciples came to him." Today, still, this word is realized: when we go to Church, we go to Christ, who is present everywhere, but even more so in the Eucharist, which is his Body. We thus accomplish what Christ himself asks of us through his Church. And, thus, we make our entire being participate in the worship of God: our body must move, it must make an effort to go to church, and help the soul to pray aloud, through words and singing. The command of God, the command of the Church is not a constraint: it is a blessing, a grace that enables us to unite our entire being to the worship of the elect who are in the Glory of Paradise!
"And he opened his mouth and taught them..."
"He opened his mouth..." This particular expression of the evangelist Saint Luke is not without interest. Aside from the characteristics of the author's style, this turn of phrase highlights the fact that Jesus is the Word of God made FLESH. The Son of God, the Word of the Father wants to communicate with mankind through the intermediary of the humanity he received on the day of his Incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary, through the action of the Holy Spirit. God wanted everything in man to be sanctified: both his soul and his body. And it is by using his soul and his body, in a just and measured manner, avoiding the excesses of 'too much' and 'not enough', that a man - any man, whoever he may be - attains heavenly bliss.
In Paradise, the elect of God are there with the Lord Jesus, seated at the right hand of the Father, living forever with the Holy Spirit! Without wearying, but awaiting the resurrection of their bodies, the saints of Heaven listen to the unique melody of the Son of God who lives of his Father's life: the WORD of LIFE ceaselessly satisfies all of the elect of Heaven, who are eternally happy to be hearing and tasting "what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived." (1 Cor. 2:9)
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven!"
Before all of these "Blessed"s, there was one that Jesus himself could not have spoken, for he had not yet been born... It was that which Elizabeth addressed to Mary, just after the Incarnation of the Word in her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord!" (Lk. 1:45) In fact, this first "Blessed..." summarizes all of the others, those that Jesus pronounced. For faith is necessary in every circumstance. Among other reasons, if we have come today to pray with the Church, it is, first of all, because we are believers. And we want to nourish this faith, our faith, we want to feed it with the Word of God, fortify it through Prayer, and above all through the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ!
Let us ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary to help us to pray, to believe, to love all men, all women, all the children of heaven and earth! May the Holy Spirit come into us to transform us into true saints, already living in Heaven while we still dwell on earth!