Sorry for the late posting but I was a bit indisposed. I took a fall off a ladder…..only two steps up. However, I landed on the edge of something hard that gave me a huge bruise on my back towards my side. I was in quite a bit of pain for a few days but I am hopefully on the mend…..Reyanna
•Revel 7: 2-4, 9-14; I John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12•
Weekly Scripture Readings: Feast of All Saints
Recently a friend of mine sent me an email message. He was ordained, later married and is now widowed. I respect and admire him for many reasons. He added this P.S. – “I had a delightful dinner with your friends Bob and Elaine. I told them they were saints.”
That is originally how saints were named. Their peers recognized Christ in them. They were “poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure in heart, peace makers” and so on. Their peers were inspired by them to imitate Christ. This month we celebrate the Communion of Saints – all of us!!
In medieval times as the institutional church became more strongly established, a formal process was instituted for the naming of saints. Not surprisingly those so named were most often popes, bishops, priests or vowed religious.
In April 2014, Francis of Rome canonized or officially proclaimed two saints: Angelo Roncalli – known as Pope John XXIII, and Carl Wojtyla – known as Pope John Paul II. Many Catholics agree that one, or the other, or both of these men are saints.
Both were significant actors in world affairs. Both had a significant impact on the Catholic Church. I saw Christ in the manner, personality and teaching of Angelo Roncalli. He inspired me to imitate Christ. I saw nothing in Karl Wojtyla that inspired me to imitate Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel begins with these words, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to speak, and taught them.” The remainder of the text is a summary of the sort of life it is possible for all of us to live. It is an outline of what it is to be fully alive and fully human.
I suspect there is a growing number of young people who are totally unfamiliar with the Sermon on the Mount. Here are two examples.
Several weeks ago while walking to Albertsons I encountered two early adolescent boys on bicycles. I need not describe their behavior or attitudes. They were rude, even violent.
During a visit with some friends, their 19-year-old daughter came into the room. She grunted a couple of words at her mother and carried on a very brief and superficial conversation. She ignored her father and others whom she knows very well. As quickly as she entered, she left.
Her mother said, “it’s the digital age! She’s always like that; don’t take it personally!”
The digital age! That is not an acceptable excuse for rude, detached, and socially unacceptable behavior! We all need examples or models to inspire us and show us how to live our lives. We certainly cannot expect to find the inspiration we need in athletic heroes or entertainment celebrities.
We can find inspiration to be like Christ in ordinary people who are “poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure in heart, peace makers.” We can find it in ordinary people like my friends Bob and Elaine who do profound things every day rooted in their faith, hope and love. They and so many of our peers inspire the rest of us to imitate Christ. We still call such models “saints.”
You are among them! When we have died, I don’t expect the institutional church will canonize any of us. That does not diminish the importance of your life. No other person shares your unique identity. Without speaking a word, your unique, simple spirit inspires us to imitate Christ. In doing so, you show us the value of integrity and what it means to be fully alive and fully human.
During this month as we celebrate the Communion of Saints, remember that you, and everyone who is “poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure in heart, peace makers” and so on, are among the saints. That includes your loved ones who have died, and those with whom you live, and you!!