Rev 7: 2-4, 9-14; 1 Jn 3: 1-3; Mt 5: 1-12
The old time pastor was galloping down the road, rushing to get to church on time. Suddenly his horse stumbled and pitched him to the ground. In the dirt with a broken leg, the pastor called out, “All you saints in Heaven, help me get up on my horse!” Then, with superhuman effort, he leaped onto the horse’s back and fell off the other side. Once again on the ground, he called to Heaven, “All right, just half of you this time!” Today we celebrate the feast of All Saints day.
“What is it like to be a Christian saint?” “It is like being a Halloween pumpkin. God picks you from the field, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out the yucky stuff. He removes the pulp of impurity and injustice and seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light of holiness inside you to shine for the entire world to see.” This is the Christian idea behind the carved pumpkins during the Halloween season.
All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is a day on which we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. In fact, we celebrate the feast of each canonized saint on a particular day of the year. But there are countless other saints and martyrs, men, women and children united with God in Heavenly glory, whose feasts we do not celebrate. Among these would be our own parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters who were heroic women and men of Faith. All Saints’ Day is intended to honor their memory. Hence, today’s feast can be called the feast of the Unknown Saint, in line with the tradition of the “Unknown Soldier.”
The first reading from the Book of Revelation speaks of John’s vision of saints in their Heavenly glory: “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9). All Saints Day reminds us that we are called to be a part of that vast multitude of holy ones whose numbers are so great they cannot be counted. Offering us the Beatitudes in today’s Gospel, the Church reminds us that all the saints whose feasts we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the Beatitudes to arrive at their Heavenly bliss. The Beatitudes are God’s commandments expressed in positive terms. They go far beyond what is required by the Ten Commandments, and they are a true and reliable recipe for sainthood. As the second reading suggests, saints are people who have responded generously to the love God has showered on them.
Reasons why we honor the saints: 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. Hence they deserve our veneration.
The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness can be lived by ordinary people, of all walks of life and at all times. The saints are our heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus. The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present. So many miracles happen on daily basis through the intercession of Saints in heaven.
Life Message: On the feast of All Saints the Church invites us and challenges us to walk the walk of the saints and not just talk the talk: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven” (Mt 7:21). The feast gives us an occasion to thank God for having invited so many of our ancestors to join the company of the saints. May our reflection on the heroic lives of the saints and the imitation of their lifestyle enable us to hear from our Lord the words of grand welcome to eternal bliss: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joys of your master” (Mt 25:21). Today is also a day for us to pray to the saints, both the canonized and the uncanonized, asking them to pray on our behalf that we may live our lives in faithfulness like theirs, and so receive the same reward.