Gospel Reflections

Feast of All Saints

Matthieu 5:1-12a

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Kathryne Webster

Published: November 01, 2017


The Feast of All Saints. Who are these Saints whom we celebrate today, the first day of the month of November?

For our reflection and prayer today, the Church offers us an excerpt from the Gospel that the Community of Matthew found important to remember and pass on to us written in Chapter 5 verses 1 through 12a. Do these verses clarify the identity of these saintly people?

The saintly people are called to be happy. It is repeated 9 times and in verse 12 there two more words that mean happiness . Happiness is the aim of this program designed in this reading. When we stop and think about this world: what is it to be happy? We look at the media, conversations, lectures, what is the impression of being happy? It is to acquire things, and more things, to have purchasing power, to have relationships that please us, that "bring happiness", to have a body of a certain standard and especially not to suffer. How would you answer this question: what is it to be happy for you? "

Jesus teaches the people of the crowd and his disciples; he gives 9 points to be happy. The first point is in the present: Blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the Kingdom of God. Being poor in spirit now the Kingdom of God is theirs now. There has been much debate about this phrase ... is it material poverty? Are you valuing poverty? Can wealthy people be poor in spirit? Why can it be reached already? I suggest this happiness can now be achieved, for people who live with their whole being the following of Jesus. In this following of Jesus one lives or seeks to live the next seven suggestions for happiness. One tries to live meekness, to live justice, to be merciful, to live pure in heart, and to promote peace. How can being afflicted fit in here? Those who are afflicted, are afflicted or suffer by the situation of lacking justice, lacking mercy, and being meek in a world that does not value meekness. And all this leads to Persecution today and now. This is also present: those who seek to live these suggestions are persecuted, with slander, rejection, violence even unto death. Why? This Kingdom of letting go (release, dispossession), meekness, mercy, justice, purity, peace and love is against the prevailing system that currently has the dominant political, economic, social and ideological power in hand. Although this system seems so powerful that it cannot changed or transformed, this system is very afraid of groups that come together and try to live this plan. There are spaces where the consequences of these characteristics - the poor receiving land, consolation, food, mercy, peace, justice on earth - are already beginning to exist and these communities generate fear in those who benefit from the current system and thus these communities and groups become targets of persecution.

Surely you can think of several examples from your local reality. I offers one from northern Brazil: A group of families knowing that a large area of land, though there was one man who said he was owner, was public and this one person was in landgrabber and holding the land illegally. The families occupied the lands and started a fight of more than 7 years to free this land. During these seven years the occupying people never assaulted any ranch employee, never damaged property, never hurt the rancher/landgrabber’s animals and never hurt the ranch. On the other hand the rancher through employees/gunmen and police who had been bribed, attacked the people verbally and physically, even killing three people; threatened and sexually harassed children on the road as they went to school; destroyed property: animals, houses, belongings of the people and finally set fire to one of the schools and a house of prayer of the Assembly of God.

The court ruled in favor of the people and the union more than a year ago, so it was for the rancher to vacate completely. To this day these lands have not yet been totally vacated by the rancher and the judicial system has not insisted. A few days ago somebody, probably sent by or incited by rancher, came to measure a lot in the area, and invaded the land of one of the occupants. In light of this provocation, in the light of the slowness of justice and the federal Agrarian Reform Commission (INCRA) to comply with the order to remove the rancher and in light of the continued unbearable threats coming from the ranch, men burned the structure of the ranch - house and corral - without burning the belongings of the employees much less hurting the employees so that the employees would no longer have a place to stay, forcing them to vacate. Then they set up barricades to block the entrance of more livestock, staff or people attached to the ranch.

Two weeks ago the Pastoral Team visited the camp. There were men, women, and children on the edge of a stream in the middle of the woods. Bunches of bananas were hanging, more bananas under straw, a pile of rice, beans, oil, coffee, sugar that people had brought or donated, and a fire burning with roasting meat. They plan to stay until the judicial system executes the orders necessary to permanently remove the rancher and all his staff and animals.  Positive energy among the people was contagious. They recognized the suffering, but were happy with their struggle, with the participation of all and with the hope of victory. . At this time (October 16) the situation continues this way, still awaiting the action necessary to definitely deliver these lands to the people. I see in this people a living and present example of the Beatitudes, the Saints that we celebrate today!

"In your reality, where do you find saints and saints?" Where are you seeing signs that the Kingdom of God is being lived TODAY?

 

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