(Part 8)


All Saints’ Day

November 1, 2016

Today’s readings:

Revelation 7:2-14

Psalm 24:1-6

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

As Christians, we are called to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. This will only happen when we finally enter heaven after being purified in Purgatory. Since we are “the children of God” (1 Jn 3:1a), “we shall be like him” (1 Jn 3:2d), when we finally make it to heaven and “we shall see him as he is.” (1 Jn 3:2e).

As God’s children, we are made for heaven. But who can enter heaven? “Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? Who can stand in his holy place?” (Ps 24:3). It is he who is “clean of hand and pure of heart, who has not given his soul to useless things, what is vain.” (Ps 24:4). Do you want to go to heaven? “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.” (1 Jn 3:3). He must live pure. He must be holy as God is holy.

How can one become holy? How can one enter heaven and see God? It is by living out the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-10). “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” (Mt 5:8). The other beatitudes point to this same reality. The peacemakers are called children of God (Mt 5:9). Then like two bookends, the poor in spirit and those persecuted for the sake of righteousness are given the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3,10).

Here is an interesting thing. Persecution because of one’s righteousness brings great blessing. “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.” (Mt 5:11). Is that not what was done to Jesus? If we are to be like him, then it is a blessing when we also suffer like him. It is part of our prophetic witness. “Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:12b). Embrace of the cross brings one to eternal life. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Mt 5:12a).

Who in fact were those in the vision of John, those sealed with the mark of God on their foreheads (Rev 7:3b-4a)? They were those who “stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes” (Rev 7:9b). They were the holy ones! In particular, “Who are those wearing white robes” (Rev 7:13b)? Jesus said, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress” (Rev 7:14b), that is, intense persecution. They were those who, like the Lord, shed their blood. As such, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14c).

In today’s darkened world, with the devil and his world powers incessantly assaulting faith, family and life, those who stand for Jesus and strive to be holy and perfect will suffer persecution, even martyrdom. Will many endure and survive such great distress? In the end, could there be “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue” (Rev 7:9a)? Or will there be a small flock? This depends on the work of evangelization.

We need to share Christ so that people will meet Christ and live Christ. So that people will walk the path of holiness. So that people will truly be saved, and receive what is due them (justice), according to God’s intent for them. “He will receive blessings from the Lord, and justice from his saving God.” (Ps 24:5).

So live pure. So evangelize and be persecuted for doing so. So be a holy warrior. And so be assured of entering heaven. “Such is the generation that seeks him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.” (Ps 24:6).

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