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· Fr Phil Paxton

To all,
Last week I mentioned that our Scripture readings for these next few weeks give us insight into how to follow the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor. Sunday is November 1, so the Church celebrates All Saints’ Day instead of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. But the Scripture readings still pertain to following these basic commandments.
This is especially true of our Gospel reading (Matthew 5:1-12a), commonly known as the Beatitudes. In these we find a concise description of what it means to live a Christian life. But during this time of pandemic, I find myself focusing on one beatitude in particular: “Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.” With all those who have died from this pandemic, we know that there are so many, too many, people who are in mourning. We know that many of those who lost loved ones were not even able to be physically present when their loved ones died. And of course, it’s not only the pandemic. There are those who have died from other illnesses and natural disasters and those who have died from violence. So, it seems that many of us who try to follow the commandment to love know that much of that at the present time involves comforting those who mourn.
But there is another aspect of that beatitude that also speaks to the times we’re living in. For me, “Blessed are they who mourn” also refers to those who have not let the unrelenting news of the pandemic and natural disasters and unnecessary violence numb them to the pain of others. In a paradoxical way, it is a blessing to still have the capacity to mourn; to still be able to be empathetic to others who are in grief; to be able to grieve with others over loss and pain and injustice.
We all know grief, and we all know someone who is grieving right now. The first thing that struck me, as it has in the past, when I read our first reading (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14), was the part when the elder in this vision of a “great multitude, which no one could count,” asks the author who are these people, the author replies, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” And then the elder says, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” I know that every people in every age has probably seen themselves as living in a time of “great distress,” but I think it’s safe to say that is true for us as well.
But if we recognize that we share this common cross, can we not bring this awareness to what Jesus is telling us? Can we not see that material wealth does not guarantee safety and security, and know that we need to be “poor in spirit” and rely on God? Can we not see that we need to refrain from doing violence to each other, and be “meek” so that everyone has an opportunity to “inherit the land?” Can we not “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” seeking justice for all? Can we not recognize the humanity of each other, and “be merciful?” Can we not be committed to be “peacemakers?”
In our second reading (1 John 3:1-3), it says: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” God loves us so much! May we continue to listen to Jesus, and follow the saints in loving God and one another.
I welcome any comments or questions. Thanks for your time.
In Christ,
Phil, CP