01Nov 01 November, 2019. Feast of All Saints

From the Book of Revelation (7:2-4, 9-14)

Vast numbers 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 nobody 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 honour 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.

Responsorial: Psalm 24

R.: Lord, these are the people that longs to see your face

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world, and those who dwell in it.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the rivers he made it firm. (R./)

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The clean of hands and pure of heart,
whose soul is not set on vain things. (R./)

Blessings from the Lord shall they receive,
and right reward from the God who saves them.
Such are the people who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. (R./)

From the 1st Letter of St  John (3:1-3)

The love the Father has given 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.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (5:1-12)

The Beatitudes as our guide 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.”


Reflection: Who are all this glorious band?

According to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The thought of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns… must give us pause.” None of us feels quite sure what’s in store for us beyond this mortal life. Saint Paul states our Christian hope by saying, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard nor has it entered the human heart to imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Cor 2:9]. Our Holy Scriptures use colourful images to offer hope for what lies in store beyond, for those who love God. The saints in heaven are a glorious group of decent people. They lived such genuine lives that on their death they went went straight home to the God in whom they trusted. They went “marching in” — happy to be meeting face to face with the One they trusted, who held them in the palm of his hand. Heroes and ordinary people. A small minority of them, through canonisation, are held up as special examples, while hosts of others were unsung heroes, living a quiet life of kindness and duty, pure of heart and gentle of spirit.

The number of the saints is “A great multitude that nobody could count” — for 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 there is to follow the one who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” our Saviour and teacher Jesus Christ. He taught by word and example how to live a good and worthwhile life. He shows us how to be the best we can be, and the qualities he praises are often the very opposite of commonly held values.

The world says, Blessed are the rich, because they can buy whatever they want and enjoy conspicuous consumption. But Jesus says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, people who value God more than money; who know it is not their mansions or millions that makes them rich in the eyes of God, but what kind of people they are.

The world says, Blessed are those who live it up, and keep the party going. But Jesus says, Blessed are those who mourn, who empathise with the misfortune, pain and sorrow of others, and try to help them with understanding,  kindness, compassion, and sharing.

The world says, Blessed are the aggressive self-assertive winners, with the ruthless streak. But Jesus says, Blessed are the gentle. Gentleness is not weakness, but a nobler kind of strength. St Francis de Sales used to say that you can catch more flies with a spoonful of sugar than a barrel full of vinegar. In Jesus’ book there’s no place for barging and bullying.

The world says, Blessed are those who enjoy  status, and fame. But Jesus says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right. The only power and status we need is to keep trying to do what is right. There’s more contentment in living with a good conscience than in mixing with the movers and shakers and celebrities of this world..

Today’s feast is not about the canonised saints but about all the good and decent people who have ever lived. None of us is expecting to be canonised as a saint. We don’t expect our picture to be painted on the walls of churches. Not for a moment do we imagine anyone preserving pieces of us as relics. But in reflecting on the Church, the Second Vatican Council talked bout The Universal Call to Holiness. Our Feast today is a reminder of our deep-down calling to become better people. It tells us that Jesus Christ can and will empower us to practise what he preached and to live what we believe..

What makes a saint?

There are some odd notions of what a saint must be like. Years ago, at the funeral of his sister, the former Princess Diana, Charles Spencer soberly announced: “to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour with the laugh that bent you double, your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile.”

Is there any contradiction between the saints and having a sense of humour? Did saints never break the rules (St Augustine)?, nor experience the dark night of the soul (The Little Flower)?, nor see the funny side of things? The saints were fully human beings, who struggled with hardships and savoured life’s joys. On All Saint’s day we think of all the good people who have crossed our path and enriched our life — parents, class mates, parishioners here in the parish. They were not perfect, but they were in their own way great human beings.

The priest once asked the class: what do you have to do to become a saint? One hand shot up: ‘You have to die, Father’ said the little boy. In a sense of course he was right. But even now we know many living saints who are truly inspired and led by the spirit of Christ and are on the way to eternal union with him.

Sanctity is a divine gift in which we share. It is much too big for us to experience alone. As we share in the experience of sin and death, so too can we share in holiness and life. Each person is already implanted with the Spirit and the grace of God. The main thing that can prevent us from living by the power of God’s grace is not being aware that we have it. We are called children of God, not just in the after-life, but now, at this very moment and all through our lives.

Chun bheith ina Naomh

Is bua ón Tiarna í an naofacht a roinneann Sé orainn.  Is rud ollmhór í a tharraingt orainn féin.   Faid a mhotháimíd an peaca agus an bás, tá an naofacht agus an bheatha shíoraí i ndán dúinn.   Tá an Spiorad agus grásta Dé ionann cheana féin.  Nárbh fheall sinn bheith aineolach go bhfuil grásta Dé bronnta orainn.   Is sinne clann Dé, ní hamháin san bheatha shíoraí ach inniu, anois agus choíche.

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