06Nov 6 November 2013. All the Saints of Ireland

Hebr. 12:1ff The faith of our ancestors

Luke 6:20-26. The short form of the beatitudes: How to draw close to God.

First Reading: Hebrews 11:2 12:1-4, 15, 13:1

Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitteness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.  See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.  Let mutual love continue.

Gospel: Luke 6:20-26.

Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.  “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Island of Saints and Scholars

The feast echoes the theme of “the island of saints and scholars” which was so strong in Ireland in the first half of the twentieth century. Pope Benedict XV (1914-22) beatified Oliver Plunkett in 1920 and in 1921  the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland was instituted. Only four of our saints, St Malachy (1094-1148), St Lawrence O’Toole (1128-80) and St Oliver Plunkett (1625-81) and St Charles of Mount Argus (1821-93), have been officially canonised. All the other Irish saints, such as Saints Patrick, Brigid, and Colmcille, are saints, as it were, by acclamation of the local Church.

The scope of this feast, while including canonised saints, is much wider. It also includes people like Blessed Thaddeus MacCarthy (1455-92), the seventeen Irish martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries, Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844), Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923) and the Servant of God Matt Talbot (1856-1925) and people like Legion of Mary envoys Edel Quinn and Alfie Lamb, whose causes have already been introduced. But it also includes those whose lives of sanctity were known only to their families, friends or members of their parish diocese or religious community.

Like All Saints (1 Nov) and All Souls (2 Nov), this is a celebration of the communion of saints, that is, a sharing in their ideals and their merits. As Vatican II taught (Lumen Gentium): “So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethern who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods” (LG 49).


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