How happy are the poor in spirit

The Gospel reading for today’s Feast of All Saints comes from the beginning of Jesus’  Sermon on the Mount. He goes up the hill and sits down, with a crowd of people waiting to hear him, and he sets out his teaching.

Our first reaction to Jesus’ words may be that his teaching is unrealistic. Jesus says, ‘Happy are the poor in spirit… happy the gentle… happy the merciful.’ But surely, that is not the way that the world is. It might seem more true to say ‘Happy are the rich… happy are the powerful… happy are those who fight to get what they want.’ Those are the values of the world.

But does it have to be that way? We have all known people who lived by the values that Jesus teaches us. We know people who are gentle, kind and merciful. There are people who are happy and contented, even though they seem to have very little. Those people are an example and an inspiration to us. They show us a better way to live.

Today, the Church remembers all the saints who are not canonised – those who are not famous, or even known. We celebrate the parents, grandparents and friends who taught us about Jesus, and who gave us an example of the Christian way of life. They lived by the values of the Beatitudes. The First Reading describes the gathering of the saints in heaven: ‘a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language.’ Everyone is invited into God’s kingdom, whoever they are and wherever they come from. There is a place there for each one of us.

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