Picture Meditation: Sunday, 31 October This Sunday, 31 October, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. The reading of the Beatitudes reflects all kinds of saints. Matthew 5:1-12 05:01 Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. 05:02 Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them: 05:03 How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 05:04 Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth as inheritance. 05:05 Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted. 05:06 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill. 05:07 Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. 05:08 Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God. 05:09 Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognised as children of God. 05:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 05:11 Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. 05:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you. Context In the forgoing stories we heard that Jesus had been baptised; he sustained temptations in the desert; he chose some fishermen as disciples and preached the Good Message (Gospel). Now Matthew is telling us that Jesus goes onto the mountain to speak to his disciples. That reminds us of Moses who did the same more than a thousand years ago. Information According to Matthew, Jesus gave five sermons in his public life. This is the first one and it is called after the opening line ‘Sermon on the Mount’. That sermon takes up the chapters 5 - 7 in Matthew’s Gospel. It is Jesus maiden speech. The programme of his mission; his philosophy of life. In 5:1 we hear that Jesus goes up onto the mountain; in 8:1 he comes down from the mountain; that is the framing of the Sermon of the Mount, emphasized by the crowd (5:1 and 8:1). The Sermon itself is constructed in three parts: 1. 5:03 - 5:16 programme / introduction; 2. 5:17 - 7:12 Jesus’ vision on ‘Law and Prophets’, his religious tradition; 3. 7:13 - 7:27 conclusion. The first word Jesus speaks, is 'Blessed'. We hear the same word at the very beginning of the Psalms, 'Blessed is the one who rejects the advice of the wicked...' Is it allowed to conclude that the Beatifications are Jesus' interpretation of the Psalms? When we survey the first eight Beatifications, we notice that the first and the last one says, 'Theirs IS the kingdom of heaven'. The kingdom of heaven IS already present, when I am poor in spirit, and when I am persecuted because I keep tight to the words of the Lord amidst all the other voices and advises which are to be heard in the cacophony of our world. The six Beatifications in between say, 'They shall...' They anticipate the reward in the future for the right and just things I do now. Picture Meditation The spirit from heaven (the dove) descends upon Jesus. He is surrounded by flowers and greenery. The artist changes the mountain of Matthew’s text into a paradise. This association is confirmed by the snake under Jesus’ foot and by the mourning naked women, bottom right. She must be Eve. Beyond her Adam? After the Fall of Man God spoke to the serpent (Genesis 3:15), ‘I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.' According to the artist these words become true at this very moment. The evil spirit submits to Jesus. Is that my experience? Were there moments in my life that it became true for me? The four men in front of Jesus: are they the four great prophets of the Old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel? If so, then they witness that their prophecies have come true in Jesus. How far is Jesus the fulfilling of my wishes and desires as well? I look at all the people who come to Jesus, listening, gazing: All Saints? Are they the saints, because they take their refuge to Jesus? I see a child upon the shoulders of its father (or grandfather?). Far away a child is held up to be seen and blessed by Jesus. In the top corner left a sick woman... Am I one of these saints? Am I nearby Jesus or rather far away? Why did I come to Jesus?