We remember the soldiers who died fighting for freedom in all the wars. We pray God will receive them into his kingdom and that we will not forget the ultimate sacrifice they offered for those who will come after them. Jesus said No greater love has one than to give up his life for his friends. We honor them and we pray for them.
The wars they fought should remind us also that we fight a spiritual war, where the stakes are even higher: our eternal salvation. Jesus is the first one who fought and died, and he rose again to claim ultimate victory over death. For those who follow Jesus, we are called to this sacrificial life, to die to ourselves for God so we can rise again with him. In the Gospel today, Jesus shows us how to fight this war, not with weapons of fire but with the power of the Spirit.
One of the problems with some people interpreting the Beatitudes is they tend to apply these to social concerns. But these go beyond social concerns to our spiritual battle. The Poor in spirit are not only the materially poor. These are those who have nothing to boast of their own and instead rely on the power of God to give them the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn are those who have lost something. This can be something material like livelihood, or even people we love. But this goes beyond that to mean mourning for what we have lost: eternal life, life of union with God. With this loss, only God can comfort us.
The meek are not those who allow others to step on them. The meek are those who obey God and they will possess the earth because they live a life that is contrary to Adam, who rebelled against God. The hungry and thirsty for righteousness are those whose desire is to be right before the eyes of God rather than of men, because they are satisfied only when God is pleased with them. Mercy is given precisely because the person who is to be punished does not deserve mercy. Mercy saves the wicked for the sake of the just. It is also a chance given to the wicked so they can repent and turn back to God. When we do this, God will also be merciful to us. In this spiritual battle, we cannot see God when our hearts are full of sin, anger and hatred. We see God only when our hearts are pure. God is seen not through our eyes, but through our hearts.
Peace makers are those who seek unity, not for the sake of unity at any cost, but those who seek unity in Truth. The modern concept of peace is absence of war or conflict, of being nice. But the concept of peace of God is one where we find rest in the midst of chaos, because we are confident God our Father is in control. St Paul said this in the First Reading: the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Peace is what guards our hearts and minds. We become children of God when we have confidence in God alone and worship him in Spirit and in Truth.
When we follow these, when we fight in the side of God, we will be harassed, persecuted, cursed, accused falsely, yet, these will not stop us because we know through these, God reigns in our lives.
Spiritual warfare is for our eternal destiny. St Paul reminds us: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there anything worthy of praise, think about these things. The first thing Paul mentions is truth. If we want to win this war, we need to keep to the Truth. When we keep to the truth, all these will follow: honor, justice, purity. The fallen soldiers have shown this in their lives. They have shown us how they won the war. They stayed on the side of truth and won.
For us, we can only win our eternal salvation when we rely on the power of God who speaks the Truth in his Word and who will lead us to victory through Christ Jesus.
Lord, reveal your Truth and never let me be led astray. Lead me into battle in your Truth and let your peace guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.