Confronting the troubles and anxieties of our age
On All Saints’ Day, the day that the church celebrates all the saints of history, Pope Francis, on a visit to Sweden, said that holiness is not shown so much in extraordinary deeds but rather in "daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism."
Speaking in a homily he proposed a series of six new items to add to the eight blessings, known as the beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12 – that Jesus said would come upon those who, among other things, were poor in spirit or acted as peacemakers.
"We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus," he continued, adding, "Thus we ought to be able to recognise and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy."
Francis then proposed six new beatitudes for the modern era:
"Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart;
"Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised, and show them their closeness;
"Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him;
"Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home;
"Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others;
"Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians."
All those who enact the six items, said the pontiff, "are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward."
In my sermon last Sunday, l suggested that as followers of Jesus, we also have these things to offer to our often troubled and anxious world:
In a world where too many people believe that there is nothing beyond this life we must confess our faith in a God who loves us with a love that will never end.
In a world where too many are convinced that the only thing that matters is the material realm … our wealth, our possessions, our health, our temporal power... we must give witness that there is so much more to life than those things that rust and can be stolen.
In a world where the U.S. Presidential election can get so ugly – where social media can be used to harass, bully, threaten and target others – our Lord is calling us to affirm one another and speak well of one another.
In an often cold, impersonal world the Lord calls us to be people of love, people of affirmation and people of praise where we build others up, not tear them down.
In a world that wants to believe there is no God, we are witnesses when it comes to God’s ability to use flawed people like you and me to do divine things.
Thanks be to God. Amen.