All Saints Day
Revelation 7:2-4,9-14, 1 John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12a
Saints are not made in heaven but on earth.
Today, members of the Church, we rejoice as we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. We celebrate in our very limited temporal way the glory in eternity of the life that God shares with our fellow human confreres. It is the life that we, too, do not just hope for. We have a reason to rejoice as we are reminded that it is the life that God also calls us to – to share with Him in eternity as John hints in the Book of Revelation.
All the saints that we commemorate were not born in heaven. Like all of us, they were born on earth and so lived an earthly life in their time as we do today. Yes, saints are not made in heaven but on earth.
In his First Letter, John reminds us that Saints are not self-made either. They are the ones who only so generously responded to the love that God showered on them. Through all the challenges, they are the ones who so bravely responded to the grace – to the opportunity offered them. And so now we celebrate the fullness of that life of love with God that we can never fully comprehend. John adds that it is when we shall see God as He is. And that “everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure.”
Being created in the image and likeness of God, we have a hint of how this is possible. And in the Gospel, Matthew tells of how Jesus shows us the way. Our earthly life is not an impediment but may well be the very vehicle to life eternal as we live according to Christ’s teachings–His words, and example.
Truly, in the Sermon on the Mount, the blessed life that Jesus describes in the Beatitudes is the life that He does not just invite us to but the life He himself lived and the life that all the Saints, in some way, emulated. In proclaiming them as saints, the Church only affirms and tells us that this is indeed possible.
With the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to the life beyond the minimum way of following God in observing His commandments as presented in the old covenant. The saints we now venerate are further proofs of how this is truly accessible or doable. It is possible for the human heart to revert, no matter how tarnished it may be, to purity as it was originally created and intended by God. In the midst of all the ramblings, the violence, the confusion, and the sin that the world can whip up, the human heart can find stillness, like the eye of a brewing hurricane, in faith and love of God that is expressed in the love and compassion towards one another. So that no mourning, no hunger or thirst for righteousness, no persecution can shake out the love of God.
Our favorite saints and our go-to saints do not draw us to themselves but to God whom they loved and served in all humility, in all courage and fortitude.
Let the saints whom we call on spur us on to follow Christ whom they followed. Let the saints whom we venerate enliven our hope for eternal life in God. Let the saints count us in their number as we struggle through the challenges of life that they too once triumphed upon. Let the saints show us how to tighten our grip on the Lord’s hand so we may never let go when the going gets tough.
As we call on them who are martyrs of faith and love, we plead that they intercede for us, who for now, may be martyrs–witnesses of hope, just like how they, in their time also looked up to their saintly forbears. Let the Spirit that moved our beloved saints open and inspire our hearts and minds to what is beyond this earthly life, in the hope that in the end, all that would prevail is God’s love and mercy–the very life we hope and strive to live by in our own way in our time.
Today, saints abound around us. [People we live with–spouse, siblings, grandparents and other family members; our dear friends; people in the community at large; people in our virtual community; people who teach and guide us, who mentor us; unnamed people who just make life possible and even easier for us, who dedicatedly serve our needs without our knowing them.] They may not have the honor to be canonized, just yet or ever may be, but they indeed are firm exemplars of God’s mercy and love not only worthy for us to emulate but worthy for us to be grateful about. Let us be the Lord’s saints to each other not only in our words but in how we utter our words with sincerity, respect, and tenderness; not only in our actions but in how the love of God moves us to act with generosity of heart; not only in our good thoughts but in how our divinely-inspired righteous thoughts are translated from our hearts to our hands.
Finally, let us call on Mary, the Queen of all Saints, to come to our aid in our journey to eternity. Let us approach her with the oldest known prayer as it appeared on a papyrus dating from the 3rd century:
Under your protection we flee,
Mary Mother of God.
Despise not our petition in our needs,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.