Today, the Church gives us the opportunity to celebrate our unsung heroes. The Feast of All Saints is a celebration in recognition of the efforts made by many “Faithful” who are not officially canonized or beatified by the Church.
All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered Saints. All Saint’s Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized Saints who have no feast days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This Feast is observed to teach us to honor the Saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man, (1Tm 2:5).
The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word ‘wholesomeness’. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity, truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others.
Contrary to the belief of one known Christian sect, that: “Only one hundred and forty four thousand people will be saved or enter God’s kingdom”, our first Reading today gives us hope that there are enough rooms in God’s kingdom for anyone that triumphs. So, All Saints refers to: “The crowd so great that no one could count. They were individuals of all nations and races, of all peoples and languages.” This Reading portrays two important things. The first is that apart from the officially canonized Saints, there are many more that have lived heroic and virtuous lives. They are unsung by men, but God the Creator and Father recognizes their efforts and struggles. They are: “Those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb,” and, now sing: “Victory, salvation, honor and glory belongs to our God, because he is Love!” Second, it also shows that God’s love is for all nations.
Today’s second Reading reminds us of how much God loves us. All Saints, (the triumphant Church), now enjoys the fullness of this love. We, (“the militant Church”), who are still living, also enjoy God’s love. It is this same love that sustains us in our daily journey. However, when we triumph like them, we shall become totally transformed and share in the fullness of this love.
St. John tells us: “Brothers, now we are the children of God, but it has not been manifested what we shall look like at the end.” We shall look like the glorified Christ and the Saints. We shall share in the fullness of God’s love.
Our Gospel reading gives us a perfect credential of all the Saints that we honor today. They are the real Blessed and Happy. Each one of them falls into one or more of these categories. They were poor in spirit. They suffered and wept for the salvation of others. They hungered and thirsted for justice and the truth. In the process they were greatly persecuted and bruised. In spite of all these, they were pure in their hearts, merciful to all, and worked for peace.
While this matches the profile and the present reward of all the Saints, it also leaves us with great hope and promise. All Saints were mortal human beings like each one of us. They came, saw, struggled, and they conquered. The same grace that helped them is still available for us today. The good news is that, if we run and endure the way they did, we shall also enjoy this same profile and reward.
The reasons why we honor the Saints:
1. The Saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The Saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. They deserve our veneration of them.
2. The Saints are our role models: They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness can, with the grace of God, be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.
3. The Saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us, (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,).
4. The Saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses, (Ex), the bones of the Prophet Elisha, (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul, (Acts 19:12), and the shadow of Peter, (Acts 5:15), to work miracles.
The Church advises us that: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become Saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect”, (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” We all can become Saints by choosing well and by doing good and avoiding evil, by choosing to follow Christ, all the way to heaven.
2) We need to take the shortcuts practised by three St. Teresa’s:
i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him.
ii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of your ability.
iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta, (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love. Do something beautiful for God. Your sainthood is then on the way.
Fr. Jude CSSp