All Saints, Wednesday, 1 November, 2023: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a
Aren’t all the conditions described as “Blessed” in today’s Gospel, much more liminal situations than virtues of my own concocting? Doesn’t meekness or mercy, only emerge when I find myself in situations beyond my devising? They are not responses I have planned, but dispositions revealed by concrete challenges: if they are not really there, they can’t be faked.
Although I aim at certain ideals, virtue is more than the result of my own volition; otherwise, when life leads me to the threshold of the unexpected, my resolve can easily weaken, and I won’t budge beyond the familiar. In the case of serious loss, for example, I can deny sorrow, pretending that I can control my feelings. Such a façade, perhaps pretending to be calm submission to God’s will, would be no more than vanity.
I believe this Gospel teaches something essential about sanctity: it is not a self-willed program of performing the “correct” things. Authentic sanctity requires neither calculated deeds nor passivity but real vulnerability to face all in life beyond my control. I need radical trust in God—and the willingness to learn from God through life’s challenges and my mistakes. Holiness is a humbling collaboration with God who desires to be engaged in my life.
That banishes every calculated performance, leaving me, no polished persona, but transparency, allowing God’s holiness to shine through. That holiness would not be mine, but God’s, manifest through the life we all share in God.
And wouldn’t that be more valuable than anything I could concoct?