Pastor’s Letter: November 1, 2020
Solemnity of All Saints
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Matthew 5:1-12a
Dear Parishioners: In today’s gospel, away from the crowds, Jesus sits down with his disciples and teaches them with the Beatitudes, the path to holiness. These are the ones who have already decided that they will follow Jesus and have left family and livelihoods to do just that. Now, before they go farther, Jesus will lay out what it means to join him on this journey. In his apostolic exhortation Rejoice and Be Glad, Pope Francis tells us, “The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: ‘What must one do to be a good Christian?’ the answer is clear” (63). Like the initial twelve disciples, we are to embrace and live the Beatitudes. On the journey of faith we will mourn, face persecution and insult, be called to align ourselves with the poor, hunger and thirst for righteousness, exercise mercy, be purified of heart, and bring peace. In these Christian attitudes, we proclaim our identity as followers of the Lord of life.
It’s critically important that we have the words of the Beatitudes in today’s gospel to remind us of what holiness looks like. Nowhere in the Beatitudes is a word about celibacy or, frankly, about sexuality at all. There is certainly nothing about one’s vocational state (priest, sister, married, etc.). Instead, we have attributes such as “poor in spirit,” “meek,” and “merciful.” These are the hallmarks of sanctity. And they can be practiced by anybody, religious or lay, Catholic or Protestant, even Christian or non-Christian. We recall that the Gospel of Matthew is much more about actions than words. And those actions have to do with mercy rather than celibacy.
Holiness and sanctity can seem so out of reach when we have as examples those whose lives are so different from the vast majority. Sanctity is not a prize given to those who complete a marathon, something most people cannot do. Instead, sanctity is something each of us is called to. Holiness is something each Christian can live. It is nothing more than living the paschal mystery, a daily dying to self so that we put others before us. Family members practice this daily! When parents sacrifice their own wants for the sake of their children, or when siblings put the needs of their brothers or sisters before their own, these are acts of sanctity. It is through such acts that we live the gospel passage today as “peace-makers.” Division and strife are not marks of sanctity; unity and peace are. Let us live the gospel message today and, in so doing, live the paschal mystery into our own sanctity.
In the Good Shepherd,Rev. Robert B. Adamo