Spiritual readings for Sunday 5th November
30 October 2017 CGI news
Week of 30th October (reference: readings for Sunday 5th November)
Celebration of all the faithful departed - Reading: 1 Jn 3,1-3; Mt 5,1-12ª
"Rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven will be great".
The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the most beautiful and most important text of the Gospel. We find in it all the principles of the Christian life. Above all, the sermon is a guide to be virtuous and holy.
The word purity appears today in an identical way both in the Gospel (Sermon on the Mount), and in Saint John’s Letter. Saint John tells us: "we know that when Jesus will be revealed, we shall be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. Every one that expects in Him, purifies himself because He is pure. In the Gospel, Jesus says: "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God".
In both texts we find the possibility of seeing God as He is, i.e., in His fullness. No one ever saw God in His earthly life in this way. Even the most mystic that could see Jesus, saw him with the human appearance since it is the way we identify Him. However, how will God appear to us when He manifests, either in our journey to eternal life, or at the end of the world?
John gives us an indication: we will see him pure; even more, we will be pure like Him. The word purity indicates essence. Pure water is the water we find in the cleanest form, without mixtures. Pure means to return to the most intimate, the most essential of ourselves, as God has made us. God created us in his image and St. John tells us that if we have faith, we will be again like Him, that is, pure. Jesus goes further: he says that we can contemplate God, if we seek to be pure, if we seek to be godlike.
The two readings - the Sermon on the Mount and Saint John’s Letter - have a tone of Parousia, or end of time. John refers to "when Jesus manifests" and Jesus finishes the Sermon with the beautiful promise: "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven will be great". I would like to stress that Jesus mentions twice that "the Kingdom of Heaven (that is, the Kingdom of God) belongs to them (the "poor in spirit and the persecuted by the justice"). However, in many other parts of the Gospel, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is here in our environment. This opens us the door to say that if we are as the Beatitudes request, we do not need wait for the Parousia to belong to the Kingdom and see God: we can do it here in our earthly life.
All the Beatitudes are beautiful and we could write a book for each of them. Those who live the Vincentian charism have the grace of seeking to live all of them, because they seek (or should seek) to be holy every day. Nonetheless, two of them have a special Vincentian flavour: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" and "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". They summarize what Ozanam lived as Vincentian and both are intimately linked: the proximity and similarity with the Poor and the relentless struggle for justice (to the point of being persecuted).
Only the one who knows poverty can be poor in spirit, and only who meets the Poor and lives like Him, knows poverty. Only who knows what justice is (give to God and to others what is due to them) can fight for Justice. The only way to know righteousness is to go towards the other and see him not as any person, but as a child of God. It is why it is so good to be a Vincentian!