[All Saints, Year A, Saturday Nov 1, 2014. Rev 7:2-4, 9-14/Ps 24: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6/1 Jn 3:1-3/ Matt 5, 1-12a]
I WAS ordained on November 1, 2008 in London. When people ask me why that date I always tell them usually a priest chooses a date with a special significance – perhaps a feast day of a Saint they particularly love, would like to emulate or have praying for them in a special way. Some priests need one saint but I need them all! I remember lying face down on the ground, prostrate on the floor listening to the litany of the Saints being sung. All my favorite saints were there! St John Chrysostom, pray for us. St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, pray for us. And so many other men and women who we have as guides and models, powerful intercessors supporting us along the way. They are present, alive, interceding for us, raising us up from the ground when we fall and offering a helping hand.
I enjoy knowing more and more about the lives of the Saints. Not only do they show us how to be holy but how to be really human. What does it mean to be holy if not to be fully human! The Saints in their lifetime were fully alive, fully human. God our Father wants for all of us to be fully alive. He wants all his children to be fully alive. We are children of a God who is life and alive. St John tells us, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are… Beloved, we are God’s children” (1 Jn 1:1-3). What does it mean to be fully alive? To be fully alive is to be holy, to be wholly alive. All of us are called to be holy, to be fully alive, like the Saints. Sometimes we have a lot of admiration for the Saints but we feel distant from them because well, they are so perfect and we are so imperfect. It is interesting reading the lives of the saints. St Paul wrote to Timothy that he was the greatest sinner of all. How can you have sins and be a Saint?
Well to become a Saint is a process and if we are here today it means we still have time. This gives us hope. Our sanctification is a process, a slow one, well, we make it a bit slower than it should be. St Thérèse of Lisieux said at 15 years old she wanted to be a Saint and at 24 she was! That it is a process is confirmed in the second reading – “What we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Each of us, as children of God, are called to this perfection in love.
Normally, thinking of the Saints, we enjoy being spectators. Seeing our own imperfections we can feel a bit distant from them. Today’s celebration is not for us to remain as mere spectators!!! We are called to be imitators. Of course we have limitations but the saints are interceding for us, praying for us. In the first reading we have an apocalyptic vision of a huge crowd: “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” A great multitude is present in this crowd. This should give us hope. To be a Saint is not for a select few! In fact it is for all Christians to strive for, to be holy, to be fully alive. What is the model presented to us by Jesus of a fully human life? The model plan of life is known as the Beatitudes – blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. I love this beatitude because the pure of heart will see God and they will see him also in their neighbor who is made in the image and likeness of God.
If there is one characteristic that marks the Saints it is that of commitment to a cause. The French philosopher Gabriel Marcel wrote, “The fact is that when I commit myself, I grant in principle that the commitment will not again be put into question…It at once bars a certain number of possibilities; it bids me invent a certain modus vivendi which I would otherwise be precluded from envisaging. Here there appears in a rudimentary form what I call creative fidelity. My behavior will be completely colored by this act embodying the decision that the commitment will not again be questioned. The possibility which has been barred or denied will thus be demoted to the rank of a temptation.”
Let us ask the grace this day [Nov. 1, Saturday, 2014] to be committed in our Christian lives, committed to living a fully human life, committed to Christ. Amen.
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And today, Sunday Nov. 2, is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. Let’s pray for all the souls who are still in Purgatory, specially our loved ones who might still be there, to be given final purification and soon ascend to the eternal bliss of seeing God face to face.