Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints

Dear All,

This week we celebrate the Solemnity of all Saints, which comes right after Halloween (“Hallow e’en”, evening of All Saints). The Gospel according to Matthew is from the beginning of the Sermon of the Mount (Chapters 5 through 7) in the section referred to as “The Beatitudes”. The opening of the sermon was probably designed to shock the audience as a deliberate inversion of standard values. Jesus talks about a group of people normally thought as unfortunate or unblessable and pronounces them well-off and fortunate (blessed) because of the presence and availability of abundant life in God's kingdom to everyone, regardless of status, circumstances, or condition. Jesus enumerates eight characteristics of people and the benefits each of them renders. As we honor all the Saints that preceded us we may recognize the beatitudes as a foretelling how they were going to be: satisfied when hungering and thirsting for righteousness, comforted when mourning, inheriting timid ones (the meek), mercy showing peacemakers, rejoicing and glad when persecuted. At the same time some of Jesus’ statements about the poor, the mourning, the meek to be declared fortunate, i.e. blessed sound rather daring. I don’t believe that Jesus is praising the powerlessness. I read it as a statement that those free from the illusion of worldly power can find the lasting gifts of happiness. The original Greek source speaks about ‘praos’ that was translated into ‘meek’. Praos means more tan humble and timid, along the lines of becoming tamed (as for a wild animal being domesticated). It could be interpreted as a recommendation to develop the inner strength to manage one's automatic reactions and aversions, suggesting a capacity for going against all natural resentfulness and passion and anger.

Some ancient writers saw a parallel as well as a contrast between Moses receiving the Law on Mount Sinai, and Jesus pronouncing the Beatitudes on the Mount of Olives. One of them, Chromatius, during the early fifth century wrote, “When the law was first given on the mountain, the people were forbidden to draw close. But now, as the Lord was teaching on the mountain, no one is forbidden. Rather, all are invited that they may hear, because there is severity in the law and grace in the gospel.”

This week’s First Reading from the Book of Revelation is written in apocalyptic style. Apocalypse literally means the

disclosure or revealing of something hidden. It has a Greek-myth root which is quite interesting. Things have been hidden about the sufferings of the early followers of Jesus. Rome, The Beast, has been attacking the Church and persecuting the faithful. This form of literature was popular before the compilation of this book. The prophets of Israel had visions of how things would be especially concerning the exiles. Their theme is centered around hope and trust. The sufferings of the present are leading into a brighter future. Communities under harsh conditions need the encouragements both from within and outside the group. This is where this week’s reading gets its importance and power. There are many symbols within the Book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible) that are not only appropriate for that time, but can also be interpreted for this present age. This week’s passage has a wonderful picture of twelve times twelve thousand people who have endured the persecution and are singing God's praises after it all. All peoples (from every nation, race, people, and tongue) are envisioned as gathered together in profound worship and thanksgiving.

The Second Reading is from the same author as the Book of Revelation, the Gospel Author and beloved apostle John. While declaring that we are God’s children now it acknowledges that it has not yet been revealed what it is we shall be. Purity is achieved through hope of becoming like Him.

On this Feast of All Saints we recognize the dying and the silent waiting for new life to unfold beyond our sight. In faith we honor all of the saints, ancestors who have preceded us, heroes and heroines of life lived in love and trust. We pray for those who have died and who await the fullness of glory with and in God. We remember all those who have died. We lift up their names in gratitude, entrusting them to the love and mercy of God. And we think about our own destinies and futures, soberly reminded that aging is a progression – not a loss.

The complete text of today’s Readings can be found at 2009/10/solemnity-of-all-saints_31.html

With God’s Love and Blessings,


For a Print version (pdf file) go to


  1. Beautiful and moving reflections Rainer,

    Un abrazo.

  2. Rainer

    Mil gracias por las oraciones.

    Lo mismo para todos los que tengo el gusto de conocer y a los que no

    Jorge y familia

  3. Dank für die regelmäßige Zusendung Deiner religiösen Schriften. Du investierst ja viel Zeit in diese Abhandlungen, ein Priester würde es nicht besser machen. Da sieht man die Abstammung vom Pfarrer Karl Zinn, wenngleich der ja bei der anderen Fakultät war. Aber der Unterschied liegt eben nicht in den wesentlichen laubensgrundsätzen.
    Beste Grüße aus Kassel !