Gospel Matthew 5:1-12
How many times in our lives has the desire to be Holy or a Saint passed? When you think about holiness, what comes to mind?
The Book of Revelations speaks about two different groups of the Elect or Saints, one is numbered at 144,000 (12,000 x 12,000) from the 12 tribes of Israel, and the second, a multitude that no-one could count. What is the difference between these two groups? The 144,000 were those of the Old Testament and the multitude were those of the New Testament, that came in contact with Jesus.
How can we be Saints? What can we do to be Saints? There is a moralistic vision of holiness – I go to Mass on Sunday, I pray the Rosary, I go to confession, I give my tithes to the Church, then I am done, I am Holy. I don’t kill, I don’t lie, I don’t speak bad about people, then I am ok. Are these people wrong or right? Wrong. What is the problem? It is not only about doing good or wrongdoings, but it’s about doing more. Doing more will incur a sacrifice. The end of the Reading of Revelations says – These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb – and this means martyrdom and suffering.
Many of us want Christianity like a fragrance of roses – Mass was nice. But there is no desire for conversion or desire for better. St Ignatius spoke about improvement and conversion. The first was to pass from doing good things to doing good. The second was passing from doing good to better. Where are we? Where are you? Are we those that need to change from evil doings to a better life and from good to better? Each one of us needs to examine our conscience and ask ourselves if we desire holiness.
There is an enemy of holiness – accidia – defined as sadness, laziness and anger. Sadness because we realise how broken we are, we struggle to believe that we can be holy and better, signs around us are not in favour of us and God. Then we become victims of spiritual and emotional sadness. This sadness is connected to laziness. Why should I do that if I will change? Why? Why? Why? Then we become lazy. Then we have anger against God, family, leaders, community and the people around us. These three elements are called accidia. Where are we? Where are you? Are you sad, lazy or angry?
Today as we celebrate the Solemnity, we are invited to look to the Saints. They lived the same as us but there was something in their lives that made them persevere and look beyond. This was proclaimed in the Second Reading, to see that we children of God, we are called to know Him, and knowing Him makes Him known. This is holiness – to know God, to follow Him and to make people know Him. For this reason the multitude of the Saints of the New Testament in holiness is to be united with Jesus. It is not only following external commandments and rules but also internal transformation. What we need to combat sadness, laziness and anger against God and humanity is a little more faith and humility. This is the logic of the beatitudes, to have a new thinking and transformation to do new actions and live differently. The Eucharist is the source of holiness. Jesus gave us the Eucharist as nourishment for our journey and all the Sacraments and actions of the Church are founded on the Eucharist. When we struggle to understand holiness, we struggle to understand the Eucharist. We don’t live out the Eucharist. How do we prepare to come to the Eucharist? How do we expose our minds and hearts when we come to receive the Blessed Sacrament? If we fail in that, then the rest will be difficult to achieve.
Let us pray today as we walk with the Saints, to grow in unity with Jesus, not to do only what we are supposed to do but to do more. Think about where you are invited to be more generous – with your time, patience, actions, work, family, community. We can aspire for holiness as a way of identifying ourselves with Jesus in the Eucharist, with His communion, and the ability to pick up ourselves for the life of others. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.