Today, the universal Church celebrates the solemnity of all the Saints. Historically this practice of honouring the saints started during and after the persecution of the early Christians. Because of the many who were martyred then, it was quite difficult to remember all the dates of their martyrdom. Furthermore, some dates of their death could not be verifiable. Moreover, there were so many of them that their dates exceeded the number of days in the year. Therefore, today’s feast was created in the year 600 or so to cover all the saints in the Church.
Why do we celebrate this day?
The answer is WHY NOT? Why do we have a victory party after winning a game or after accomplishing something? We do have a victory party because we want to savour the moment, we want to re-live the wonderful experience, we want to share the feeling of joy, of completeness, of being rewarded. With these same reasons and more, we are celebrating this special day in our life as Christians. We may ask: How can we savour the moment when we haven’t experienced what the Saints had experienced in Heaven with God?
True but…through the witness of the saints, our faith tells us that there is something greater, beautiful and rewarding experience that God has prepared for us. Our Readings for this special day remind us of the great things that await us if we go on walking on the right track heading to God. The first Reading on the Book of Revelation tells us of the wonderful mixed of nations, races, countries, colours, language, altogether as one in worshipping God in heavenly celebration. In our second reading,St John reminds us that we can’t exactly tell or know what really would become of us in heaven. But all we know is that we will see God as he is. Isn’t it an exciting wait, to see God not only through our needy brothers and sisters, not only through the wonderful works of creation, but as HE really is? I’m looking forward to that moment.
We can get to that moment if and when we live out our calling, that is to become saints. Yes, we are all called to be saints. We are all called to share in the life of God forever in heaven. And our journey in this life is towards that purpose- to be saints of God forever. This is the reason of our hope.
Do we just have to wait in hope? Yes but waiting is not enough. We have a mission to do while waiting. And Jesus in our Gospel today has outlined for us the Beatitudes, the blessedness, or what can be called our guidelines as we look forward to the end of everything that we hope for. One scholar even said that the beatitudes, i.e. the gospel of today, is the summary of the whole Gospel. We can see the beatitudes in the very life of Jesus. We can also see that the saints really lived out the beatitudes in their lives, whoever they were, whatever they did, and whatever time they lived in.
So what can we do then?
First: Keep heaven in sight. How? Read, Reflect, ponder, and live out the Beatitudes. Mother Teresa would add: “We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with him right now–to be happy with him at this very moment. But being happy with him now means: loving as he loves, helping as he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves, rescuing as he rescues, being with him for all the twenty-four hours, touching him in his distressing disguise.”
Second: Stand up for Christ as the saints did. In terms of a game, we would say, aim for the trophy and for the victory. If the players had to work hard in training to get the trophy, so are we. Standing up for Christ is indeed very hard and challenging especially in our time and day. At times we may find the Jesus who not only comforts the afflicted but also afflicts the comfortable. Yet we must not be afraid to stand up for him, because even if we are standing alone, we know that we are standing on the right ground. Even if our knees are trembling, we know that we are standing in the firm and solid ground. So as we continue to celebrate this day, we ask God that like the Saints in heaven, he would draw our hearts always to heavenly things by making us closer to his Son whose life, death and resurrection, becomes the life of the Saints.