Gospel Reflection on All Saints: 31st October 2021

Experiencing the Holy

‘On All Saints Day and All Souls Day (Nov. 2), we are invited to be aware of deep time when past, present, and future time all come together as one. If you have Celtic sensibilities especially at this time of year there is a heightened recognition of this time being a “thin place” between this world and the next. These are the days when the other world and this world come together. This is when the invisible world and the visible world meet.’1

‘Reality for us is determined by and limited to the five physical senses. If it cannot be seen, tasted, touched, smelled or heard then for us it is not real. We tend to live with a veil that separates the exteriorized world of tangible, measurable, rational information from that other world, the inner world of mystery, transformation, and encounter. There are moments, however, when we stand in the “thin place” where the veil is parted between this world and the other world, between heaven and earth, between the divine and the human, between matter and spirit, between the eternal and the temporal. In the thin place the duality of those pairings disappears and we now stand in union, wholeness, and ultimately holiness. Thin places invite us to step outside the five senses, to step outside what we know, what we can understand and explain. They invite us to be astounded by the greatness of God, to enter the tremendous mystery of God’s presence and love.’2

We each have our own experiences of thin places: when we feel one with the divine in our relationships with others; when we taste wonder in nature, literature, music and art; when we welcome a child into this world as they take their first breath at birth; when we accompany a loved one as with their last breath they leave this world. ‘We do not often talk about our experiences of these thin places. It is not because those encounters are not real. It is, rather, because they are too real, too real for words. Words could never describe the experience and would only diminish the mystery and greatness of that encounter. In the thin places we know that we not only stand in the presence of the holy but we experience our own holiness, our union with God.’2

The more we allow our ‘thin place’ experiences to deepen our awareness of the reality of our wholeness, our union with God, the more we will know that we are truly blessed and we will want all people to experience that blessedness. Our response will be to live the beatitudes, to be involved in the building up of the world we live in, helping to make it a place of truth, love, compassion, justice, freedom and peace.  

[1] Richard Rohr   [2]  Michael Marsh

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill.  There he sat down and was joined by his disciples.  Then he began to speak.  This is what he taught them: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.  Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”