01Nov 1st November. Saturday. Solemnity of All Saints

 

“The ultimate object of veneration of the Saints is the glory of God and the sanctification of man by conforming one’s life fully to the divine will and by imitating the virtue of those who were preeminent disciples of the Lord….which translates into commitment to the Christian life.” (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. 2001)

First Reading: Book of Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14

(The great number whose foreheads were sealed with the sign of the Living God.)

I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel.

After this I looked, and there was 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. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Second Reading: First Epistle of St John 3:1-3

(The love the Father has shown us, that we should be called children of God.)

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

(The Beatitudes are our map-of-life, to the Kingdom of Heaven.)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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Images of the World to Come

Life in the world to come is beyond our power to imagine, for as St Paul wrote, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard what God has in store” (1 Cor 2:9). Nevertheless, images can offer some foretaste of what lies in store, beyond this world. Today’s feast celebrates the many who have gone to heaven ahead of us. They are neither plaster saints nor gloomy ascetics, but a glorious band of decent people who have lived life with such love that they went went straight back to the God they loved so well.

The saints went “marching in” – happy to be meeting face to face with the One who always held them in the palm of his hand. Heroes and ordinary people. Some of them were major personalities whose work has inspired the church for centuries, and others are unsung heroes, who lived a quiet life of family, work and friendship, in the spirit of the Gospel; humble in their ways, peacemakers, pure of heart and gentle of spirit. They add up to “a great multitude that no one could count” – because God is rich in mercy, and in the Father’s House there are many mansions. There’s place there for all of us, and the surest way is to cling to “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

At a major funeral in England some years ago, Princess Diana’s brother cautioned against making his late sister into a kind of a saint. Addressing his dead sister he announced: ‘indeed to sanctify your memory would be to miss the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour, your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile’. But is it really true that the saints never broke the rules (St Augustine?), never experienced the dark night of the soul (The Little Flower?), never had a sense of humour? (‘God save us from sullen Saints’ – St Teresa of Avila), never broke into a great smile? The saints were fully human. They struggled with temptation; they savoured life’s joy. On All Saint’s Day think of all the good people who have crossed your path and enriched your life – parents, class mates, parishioners here in the parish. They were not perfect, but they were in their own way great human beings.

A priest once asked a class of ten-year-olds, “what do you have to do to become a saint?” One hand shot up and the little boy said, ‘die, Father’. But the priest said, “Maybe not – for I know many living saints!”

 


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