Solemnity of All Saints
(Rev 7: 2 – 4, 9 – 14; Ps 24; 1 John 3: 1 – 3; Matthew 5: 1 – 12a)
St. John shares his overwhelming vision, the ﬁrst – 144,000 from every tribe of Israel. It is interesting that he sees Israel before all the others – surely it was because they were the ﬁrst to be in covenant with God. And then, a great multitude, uncountable, from every nation, tribe and tongue and all caught up in the full glory of salvation. Prostrate before God they acclaim with wonder “Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power and might to our God forever and ever. Amen!” They cry out because every grace, the gift of salvation comes from Him, from Him alone; their praise is like thunder – again and again.
In reﬂecting on this holy multitude it is clear to me that surely our lives have brushed shoulders with some of these saints – be they relatives, parents, friends, priests, nuns, fellow monks – people no less holy than the famous, the canonized and beatiﬁed – all now held in God’s eternal, merciful embrace that has no end.
A personal note: I was stationed in a parish for ten years while teaching in a local Catholic high school; I had the 6:30 AM Mass Monday to Friday and I can still see the people who came at that early hour. The men, women, the Sisters, each had their particular place in church (true in every church!) They had their personal devotions before Mass, some came to Confession; participating in the Holy Mass each received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as they began the day. And we know that similar scenes happened, do happen in churches, convents, monasteries every day – to the glory of God.
Can it not be said that all these lived to some degree the Beatitudes Jesus proclaimed – surely not perfectly – no one is perfect and the Lord delighted in them. He saw their trials, failings, He knew their victories so much so that St. John in his letter can write “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are!”
As men and women in the Body of Christ, we celebrate with the saints today their victory in Christ and we know and believe we are surrounded by them. We are truly ediﬁed by their lives and supported by their prayer, intercession before God.
And in that, there is a message for us in our present journey – are we not, as brothers and sisters in Christ called and graced to edify one another by the witness of our faith, our charity, and are we not to support one another by our prayer, our example? Isn’t this what the Communion of Saints is about? In the Body of Christ, in this sacred communion, we are brothers and sisters – not independent contractors – ships that pass in the night. We are one in Christ!