Today we honor the Holy Men and Women who lived exemplary lives for the Lord. Catholic websites call them great champions of the faith for modelling the kind of commitment and devotion that are in total and absolute commitment to God the Almighty. I am always in awe by how they were able to overcome the world’s challenges, looking beyond this life to a glorious and triumphant reward before God. In fact, my favorite portion of Church ceremonies is the one during the Easter Vigil Mass when the Litany of the Saints is proclaimed. It’s always a hair-raising experience for me because knowing the difficulties that the saints and martyrs went through, they must have been gifted with Heavenly Wisdom to give and dedicate their lives for God. Their lives are so full of difficulties, sometimes it looked so desperate but yet they persevered in the faith and therefore a rich reward awaited them in Heaven. The list of these great men and women goes on and on. And it’s a blessing to know of people who have that grit and tenacity to go beyond the pains and sufferings of this world.
In the Gospel (Mt. 5: 1-12a), Jesus announces the type of life we as His followers are supposed to live here on earth, while at the same time showing it as a type of grand strategy towards a glorious and triumphant end. Called the Sermon on the Mount, this is like the first official instruction of the Lord to His disciples. Each blessing begins with the word beati in Latin which translates to “happy”, “blessed”, or “wealthy”, hence Beatitudes. As His first and newly-recruited disciples might have brought up their emotions after seeing the first miracles that Christ performed, He took the opportunity to define what it truly means to be a disciple.
The Beatitudes point beyond earthly life to the eternal happiness of Heaven. The Lord is telling us to live in the spirit of charity and not to be attached with worldly wealth. In managing our worldly affairs we give priority to the love of God and others in need, to mourn in order to see God’s hand in everything, to be gentle and meek, to work for justice and peace, to be merciful, to have a clean heart in our dealings with others, to work for peace, and to accept the difficulties that comes with being a witness of God to others.
In a deeper way, the path to eternal happiness is not to be found in one’s own life but in total dependence on God. It isn’t meant to live in misery in this world and expect to be rewarded by God in the future. Instead, despite difficulties, life is meant to be a happy experience. We can always choose to be happy, by looking beyond the reason for it. All earthly pain and suffering should be gladly accepted as it purifies us to become worthy of His calling. The Beatitudes are announcements that happiness in this life belongs to those who put their trust only in God.As proclaimed in the First Reading (Rv. 7: 2-4, 9-14), “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” We cannot save ourselves alone, we need God’s grace.
Today, let us reflect on the lives of the saints and martyrs. How can we model our lives after them? Like them, how can we be more happier in life? How can we develop that attitude of looking beyond earthly pain and suffering?
Let us pray that the Lord grant us the grace of wisdom, humility and strength to accept the hardships that come with being a follower and witness of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.” (Mt. 11:28)