“A huge number, impossible to count” – that is the picture this Solemnity creates. In every age there have been men and women who have followed the Lord faithfully, and who now rejoice in the Liturgy of Heaven, as they stand before the throne of the Lamb. These are the “anonymous” saints, whose names we don’t remember ‑ but even though their names are not on our lips, their memory, inspiration, example and prayers are set before us today, so that we too can be encouraged in our own “journey of perfection”. What does it take to be a saint? Surely the Gospel that is appointed for today (the Beatitudes) shows us that it is in the small things that we triumph: gentleness, mercy, making peace, faithful mourning, purity of heart, poverty in spirit ‑ these are not grand, public ways to sanctity. They are domestic, and homely, to be practised and perfected with those closest to us. We sometimes exalt the “named” saints to the degree that we can feel they are distant from us. Today’s feast, as well as celebrating the memory of the many whose name we do not know, also prompts us to see holiness as within our grasp.
First Reading: Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples. It is he who set it on seas: on the waters he made it firm. Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things. He shall receive blessings from the lord and reward from the God who saves him. Such are the men who seek him, seek the face of the God of Jacob.