To live as saints - Madonna Magazine

To live as saints

John Reilly SJ 10 March 2017

27th Sunday Year B
Genesis 2: 18–24, Mark 10: 2–16
The Genesis story of the creation of Eve can suggest that the first human was male, and his need for companionship brought about the creation of woman. This reflects a Jewish prejudice at the time of man’s superiority over woman. This prejudice is not found in Jesus. For him, women and men stand together as equals before God. Their companionship is truly mutual and life-giving for each other.

Jesus experiences the lowliness and littleness of being human within the power and immensity of the material universe. He is like us in our struggles in every way, except unlove (Hebrews 4:15).

He leads us as a brother, truly one of us. By his total openness to God’s presence and action in his life, Jesus realises in himself our full potential of being human.

In all the four Gospels Jesus is a man of faith in God and love for others. He is always totally open and responsive to God in his life, and with unlimited compassion for everyone who comes into his life.

The compassion of Jesus mirrors the compassion of God for each person. He feels an empathy for anyone who is excluded, marginalised or discriminated against in any way, the poor and the weak. Jesus feels a deep empathy for the women and the children whom he meets. In Israel at the time, women are second-class members of society, and children have no real role, except to learn from others.

In the Gospel, Jesus interacts with women and with children. Both at that time were thought less important in society.

Lifelong love between a man and a woman is very sacred. It needs to be fostered and protected in every way possible. It is a privileged experience of God in our human lives.

I think a man and a woman who live together for 50 years in genuine love ought to be canonised automatically as saints. On their 40th wedding anniversary, they could also be beatified automatically.

Lifelong love in marriage is sanctifying. It is holiness in a very real way. To be holy is to be like God – to love, to give life, to share oneself.

Broken marriages are a tragedy, but not the end of life. God is still there, the source of love for a new start, a healing love easing the pain.

When his disciples begin to rebuke people who are bringing their children for Jesus to touch them, Jesus becomes angry. He welcomes the children, embraces them, blesses them, and puts his hands on them.

Jesus tells all listening to him, they must become like little children if they are to experience the Kingdom of God, the favourite phrase of Jesus for the presence and action of God in the world.

For God’s action to appear in the world, people need to nurture throughout their lives the wonder, the openness and responsiveness to life that is natural to small children.

The Solemnity of All Saints Year B
Matthew 5: 1–12
The feast of All Saints is a celebration of those who share God’s eternal life, including those who have passed away that we know: our parents, brothers and sisters, children and friends. While with us they lived holy lives, lives of faith in God, love for us, and hope for our human future.

We believers know that when our next life as saints with God in heaven is revealed we shall be like God. We shall see, directly experience, God as God really is.

The Gospel is the start of the first of five great collections of the teachings of Jesus, commonly called the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, which Matthew compiled for his first-century readers, and for us too, nearly two thousand years later.

Contrast the teaching of Jesus for his disciples on the mountain in Galilee with the teaching given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, 1200 years earlier.

The scene is described in the Book of Exodus 20:1–21. God’s word to Moses is revealed in commandments. The people of Israel keep their distance from the smoking mountain where Moses is. They shake with fear at the peals of thunder, the lightning flashes, and the trumpet blast.

Contrast the scene where Jesus sits on the mountain and calls his disciples around him. He reveals God’s word not in Ten Commandments, but in Eight Beatitudes, beatifying gifts, grace-filled blessings from God.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to his disciples, and a large crowd of people from many places, below the mountain on a piece of level ground (Luke 6:17–23). He teaches Four Beatitudes – for the poor, the hungry, the sorrowing, and the persecuted.

Matthew’s Gospel Reading includes the same four situations or attitudes, and adds four more beatitudes – for the meek, merciful, pure of heart, and the peacemakers.

God’s presence and action is already revealed by persons in these eight attitudes or situations, who open their hearts to the beatifying blessing of God and begin to radiate love, joy and peace to others.

The gentle, or lowly, will inherit the whole earth. The sorrowful will begin to be comforted. Those yearning for goodness, love and justice will be satisfied.

The merciful will begin in this life to experience God’s mercy, and fully in the next. The pure of heart, those who centre their lives on God in simplicity of heart, will experience God. Peacemakers will reveal the peace of beginning to share already the peace and harmony God gives.

The interiorly poor and the persecuted, first and last of the Eight Beatitudes, will recognise and reflect the Kingdom of Heaven. It has already begun to be theirs.

Blessed people create a new kind of place in our world. They fashion the world for God’s future


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