Pick a card, any card. Pick a Beatitude, any beatitude—no matter which one we pick—not going to be easy. Jesus never said that being a disciple was going to be easy. The Beatitudes are like a road map to heaven.
So many wonder what God is up to. What does God want? What is God’s will for me? Here’s the answer—the new commandments of Jesus. If we choose one and live our life accordingly then sainthood here we come! By living the Beatitudes is how the Saints got to be Saints. Standing back a little, not taking the surface level of meaning, looking more into the mystical level we can see that all the Beatitudes are related. A common thread runs through them—they speak about a transcendental reality while rooted in the ordinariness of life—sort of like what Sacraments do. We see signs and symbols that take us to another level of existence. Bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. Ordinary olive oil brings healing. Water cleanses the soul of original sin. Just follow the same line—human conditions of poverty, meekness, hunger can be transformed into heavenly glory. Takes time, takes courage, requires faith—nothing instant about the Beatitudes. They speak about a process—a life-long process. The Beatitudes are counter-cultural because everything in our commercial society points to immediate gratification. Every advertisement, all the products, the latest fashions direct our attention to immediate gratification. We live in a microwave mentality. Fast-food, rush, rush, rush. Who wants to be poor in spirit? Who wants to be clean of heart? Such conditions are not popular; certainly go over like a lead balloon.
A striking realization as we visited the different sites of Saints was that they were as human as we are. Once upon a time they were born, had families, had their share of doubts. The Saints which stand out the most are the ones who suffered the most. Yet, we can see similar suffering all around us: some folks who are in nursing homes, some who are homeless, the people who have to migrate to another country. Suffering has never gone out of style; but in fact is the necessary ingredient to sainthood. How we handle the crosses that come our way will determine our openness to God’s grace. Keep in mind that the Saints depended totally on God—they had to. Their own strength ran out soon after they accepted God’s call. Only with God’s grace were they able to endure the trails that came.
In our self-sufficient world, dependency is easily forgotten. The walls, the fences, the alarm systems betray our attitude of wanting to be left alone. “I don’t need anybody.” If the group of men had not carried St. Ignatius for miles by foot, he would have died on the battle field and our celebrated Holy Father would not be a Jesuit. All of the Saints learned early on to depend on God and on other people. The Communion of Saints starts now. We not only remember them, we are them. The Feast of All Saints is like looking in the mirror. To say that we will never be a Saint is to dam ourselves to hell. At the end of time there will only be two options—heaven or hell. Choose now. Since the majority of us want to go to heaven, then we must live our life on the path of the Beatitudes. Nothing magical about them—just ordinary, everyday stuff. For families the Beatitudes often mean putting up with each other. Remember to talk—share—the hard times are not so hard when we share with each other. Families were never meant to co-exist. We need to get up in the morning with renewed purpose—with resolve to have a better day than yesterday. Be merciful, be a peacemaker, thirst for holiness: all those things start at home. Parents you have the leadership of your children. Children respect your parents. That’s the stuff that gets us to heaven.
Saints are supposed to look like us. We are supposed to look like the Saints. Happy Feast Day.