Today, the universal Church celebrates the solemnity of all the Saints.
All Saints’ Day is not about Halloween, but it means that the Holy wins—the holy people wins. It is a day of celebrating those who have gone before us and paved for us the way to God by their life of holiness and example of virtue.
Historically this practice of honoring 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.
So today we honor not just those who are formally and publicly canonized saints in the Church.
We honor and revere today those people great and simple, known and unknown, rich or poor, man or woman, those people whom we may have met and known personally, those whom we may even have worked with, whose lives are exemplary and whose lives are patterned after the life of Christ.
We honor them because we believe in the communion of saints and because in and through them, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, the holiness of the Church shines through.
Every time we profess our faith, we say we believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The holiness of the Church is visible through the saints.
We celebrate this day because we are sharing their joy. After the race in their lives called the Cup of Christian discipleship, after taking up their crosses and following Christ faithfully regardless of difficulties, trials and temptations, all of them got the crown of Christ’s glory- the glory of the saints, that glory that St Paul would assure us— “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Cor 2:9)
The saints were not perfect. They were not born saints. They were also sinners like all of us. Oscar Wilde would say: “The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future.”
The saints were made holy because they freely and willingly responded to God’s call to be holy and they faithfully lived out their calling over and above all things. They became saints because they lived in hope that as St Paul would tell us in the second reading today, the hope of seeing God face to face, by purifying themselves, patterned after the purity of Christ.
The lives of these holy people, the saints, assure us that there is something greater, beautiful and rewarding experience God has prepared for us when we remain faithful to Christ.
Our Readings today remind us of the great things that await us if we go on walking on the right track heading towards God.
The first reading from the Book of Revelation tells us of the wonderful mixed of nations, races, colors, language, together as one in worshiping God in the heavenly liturgy.
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 we live out the virtues outlined in the Beatitudes that we heard read as our gospel today.
The Beatitudes serve as our guidelines as we look forward to the fulfillment of every good thing that we hoped for.
A scripture scholar even said that the BEATITUDES 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 have lived in.
Mother Teresa is one great example many of us can imitate and learn from not only on what she had done, but on what she said as well.
She said: “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.”
In other words, be let us be ‘Christ-like’ in all that we do and all that we are.
In terms of a game, we aim for the trophy and for the victory. If the players had to work hard in training to get the trophy, and must we.
Another way to attain that moment of seeing God face to face is to Stand up for Christ here and now as the saints did in their time.
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 on the firm and solid ground.
So today, let us thank God for the gifts of saints, people who were once like us but have assured us that though sinners we still have the capacity and the opportunity to become saints.
Let us also ask the prayers of the Saints that like them the holiness of God and the holiness of the Church may shine through us.
Let us also ask the intercession of the saints that like them we may live in hope of the glory that God has prepared for us for all eternity. Amen.