A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
The feast of All Saints crowns the Christian year with a renewed vision of our heavenly life and calling, tried and purified by our faithful passage through the story of this Trinity season. On Trinity Sunday we began with the joyful proclamation of the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirt, which is the vision, the knowledge of God, opened to us by the triumph of the Resurrection and the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost. We come to know, as St. John summed it up the following Sunday, that “God is love.” Gradually the knowledge of that love has been taken up into our own hearts and lives in the pilgrimage of faith which Trinitytide represents, so that, as the disciples and followers of Jesus, we move from worldly cares and anxieties, to a peace beyond the world’s vain powers, by way of a deepening of our trust in and commitment to Christ’s power to save and to heal us.
This progress is the way of beatitude which our Lord describes in today’s Gospel: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth…” It is a hard way, in any earthly sense, coming at the cost of all our earthly-minded ambitions, which is a ‘great tribulation’, but it is also—and at the same time—our entering in upon that ‘more excellent way’, the life of charity, which is the very life of God. “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in Him.”
In the course of that journey, we find two things becoming more clear, and more clearly the meaning of our own life and calling: first, the glory of God, and His heavenly goodness, more and more appears to us as present, and intended for our enjoyment. We are meant to attend the heavenly banquet, not as strangers, but as friends. We are called to be saints, called to be His own, which is the root of what it means to be blessed. We learn to look up, not with fear, but hope, because, “perfect love casts out fear.” And as we learn this, we also learn that we are not alone, in any sense, nor separate, in any way, from one and other. Our holiness, our beatification, is simultaneously our approach toward the throne of God, and our holy vision of one and other: “I beheld, and lo, a great multitude… before the throne”. As we gather at the feast of heaven, we also draw towards, with and into, our common life with one and other, which is the community we call the Church, so that in the end, we see the perfect meaning of Christ’s words, “the second commandment is like the first.” “Blessing and glory be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”