In today’s reading from the Apocalypse St John tells us that he saw the saints as a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. While we also know that many will refuse God’s offer of salvation, it is a great consolation to know that, even though it may not appear to be the case, there are a great number of souls who do become saints. In other words, regardless of what the world would have us believe, we are not alone in the struggle. We have all the angels and saints of paradise on our side, as well as the number – known to God alone – of strong souls in this life who, like us, are waging the battle for our eternal salvation, and who, with the grace of God, will win.
Today’s Gospel gives us the means to do just that. The Beatitudes – which a good Christian should know by heart and in their proper order – constitute what we might call the program of Jesus and of all those who seek to imitate Him. The style of Jesus and His saints is expressed in most eloquent terms in the Beatitudes, and all the virtues are there shown in their ultimate manifestations.
In the fourth antiphon for the feasts of the apostles, the beatitude of the peacemakers and that of the pure of heart are placed together. And in today’s communion verse, the same two are brought together along with that of those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake. It is as if Holy Mother Church wishes to underline the fact that purity of heart and peacemaking go together. Purity and humility are two flowers that grow in the same garden, for just as the opposed passions of lust and wrath are often found together in the same sinners, so the virtues of purity and humility are found in the saints. At the same time, we know from what we hear every day in the martyrology that the world has no affection for chastity nor does it promote true peace of the heart, hence the persecution of the virtuous.
As we pursue our path towards eternity, let us ask all the saints, whose multiplied intercession carries great weight with God, for the grace to imitate their virtues, and in particular let us ask them to be truly pure of heart, having the clarity of vision to see God in all things, and let us actively pursue the path of peace, the true peace which means the conquest of ourselves, our emotions and passions.