Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Solemnity of All Saints
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
“He began to teach them.” Matthew 5:2
When I think of teachers, I become frankly a little overwhelmed. I recall as a Pastor discovering that my fifth grade teacher was homebound, and I would be visiting her to bring her our Lord in Holy Communion. It was a privilege for me when she died to also anoint her with the Sacrament of the Sick. I felt that in some way I had repaid her for all she had taught me, along with many other teachers throughout my student years.
Our Lord sat down on the mountain to teach His disciples (Matthew 5:1). All He expected was that they remain faithful to what He taught them. The teachings of our Lord were preserved in the Sacred Scriptures, which the Church took seriously to preserve and proclaim, and Sacred Tradition, which the Church lives out in its catechism and sacred liturgy.
What we find our Lord doing at the Sermon on the Mount is what we find Him commanding His disciples to do at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…” and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). To teach the message of Jesus Christ is a sacred mandate, and we must take it seriously.
The saints give us an example of this. Can we think of one saint for whom the teachings of Jesus Christ did not permeate his or her life? That is what we are celebrating today, all of those saints, some known to us by canonization, and an even greater number unknown to us but nonetheless joined to our Heavenly Father for all eternity. They came from a multitude of diverse backgrounds but one thing they all shared in common—love for Jesus Christ. And that love for our Lord was manifested most especially in remaining faithful to His teachings.
At the core of this teaching are the Beatitudes. They do not replace the Ten Commandments, as our Lord makes clear later (Matthew 5:17). Instead they complete. As any good teacher gives the class a syllabus on the first day that outlines what will be taught, our Lord gives us the Beatitudes. Who are truly blessed? The poor in spirit, the sorrowing, the meek, those who hunger for what is right, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted (Matthew 5:1-10) (4). We could take each of the Ten Commandments and apply them neatly to each Beatitude. They tell us what God expects, and if we love Jesus, we apply them to our lives.
I hear people ask, what does God want from me? The answer to that question is no mystery. It is found in the blueprint for holiness that our Lord left us in His brilliant teaching. Like a fine teacher who taught us how to read and write, Jesus told us what we need to know. And like some lessons, it takes us time to apply them. But they are always there, either guiding our lives or awaiting rediscovery.