When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The eight Beatitudes are a resume of the Christian charter. They are the boundaries within which the Christian life is successfully lived. We are celebrating today the Feast of All Saints, that is, of all those who have lived their Christian life according to the ideals that Christ place before them in the Sermon on the Mount. They have succeeded. They have reached heaven because they followed the rules which Christ laid down for them. They loved God and they showed that love in their daily living. They kept his commandment not only according to the letter but in spirit and in truth.
They bore the trials and troubles of life patiently, as part of God’s plan for their sanctification. They loved their neighbor and proved it by their deeds of charity and mercy. They forgave those who persecuted and injured them. They lived in peace with God and with their neighbor. They helped to promote peace among their fellowmen wherever and whenever they could.
Some of the saints whose feasts we are celebrating today were outstanding in their sanctity. They lived their loves of mortification far beyond what was required of them. They loved God with an intensity that is not expected of ordinary mortals. They served their neighbor with a life-long dedication. They set an example and made an impression on the life of their contemporaries which will never be forgotten. God be thanked for such noble examples of saintly Christians.
But there are millions of others in heaven, saints of God also, who did nothing except their ordinary Christian duties. They did this sincerely and willingly. Their names are not inscribed in the Church’s Martyrology but they are written in the “Book of Life” in heaven. Most of us can only admire the first group from afar and thank God for the graces which their very saintly loves obtained, and are still obtaining, for the Church of God. However, we can all feel a little more confident today because of the lesser saints. What they did, we can do. Where they succeeded, we too can succeed. With the help of God’s grace and the assistance of the major and minor saints in heaven, we will and we shall succeed.
Heaven is the eternal home that God has planned for all men of good will. It was to raise us up to sonship with God that Christ came down and lived and died as a man on earth. It was to help us on the way that he founded the Church and gave her the sacraments that sinners and weak mortals would need on their road to heaven. God knows the material of which we are made. He knows too how to make something far greater out of that same weak material. He has done so already with millions of vey ordinary human beings. He is doing it daily and will continue to do it.
All that is needed is that we put ourselves in his hands. That he fashioned Adam out of a lump of clay may be a face or a poetic description. What he can and will make out of me is a saint, a citizen of the the kingdom of eternal happiness if only I will let him. May god give me the sense and the grace to do just that, so that when I close my eyes in death, I shall see God and become one of the millions of saints whose feast I am honouring today. So be it. Amen.