Jack Gormley tells this story poetically… “Daddy, what are saints?” my little boy asked. And I paused before making my reply. “Do we know any saints right here on earth? Or do they all live with God in the sky?” We entered the church of God just then, As the morning sun shone bright and fair Through the stained-glass windows, wide and high, And the reverent figures painted there. “These are all saints, my son,” I said, And his face took on a rupture new. “Oh, I know what are saints are now, Dad: They are the people God’s light shines through.”
We celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. Why do we celebrate this feast? I can think of two important reasons…
One, beside the handful of saints whose feast days we celebrate on specific days in the year, there are countless other saints or holy people united with God in his heavenly glory. Many of these would be our own parents and grandparents who were heroic women and men of faith. Today we keep their honorable memory. We celebrate what the first reading calls “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” “They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”
Two, today’s celebration gives us a peek into our eternal destiny. The saints we celebrate were men and women like us. Where we are now, they used to be; and where they are now, we hope to be someday. Bilang mga Kristiyano naniniwala tayo na ang kuwento ng buhay natin ay hindi nagsisimula sa araw ng kapanganakan natin at nagtatapos sa araw ng kamatayan natin. Bagkus, ito ay nagsisimula sa paglilihi sa atin at magpapatuloy sa magpakailanman o eternity. That is why we do not simply forget people after they die. Umaasa tayo na, tulad ng mga santo at santa na pinararangalan natin, makakapiling din natin ang Diyos sa kanyang kaluwalhatian sa langit; makakabahagi tayo sa mismong buhay ng Diyos; mararanasan natin ang kaganapan ng buhay sa piling ng Diyos.
But we know that this does not happen automatically. Jesus himself reminds us: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
How do we live a life of doing the will of the heavenly Father? Today’s gospel reading gives us an answer: Doing the Father’s will means living out the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes propose to us a way of life, inviting us to identify with the poor, those who mourn, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They challenge us to be compassionate people, to be men and women who are pure in heart, and to become peacemakers in our families and communities.
None of the saints we honor today had it as their aim in life to amass wealth, to acquire power or to gain popularity. Rather, they looked forward to the eternal reward which God gives to his faithful ones at the end of this short earthly life.
Today we are invited to walk the path of the saints: the way of the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes require a reorientation in us. And this may seem too costly and so demanding. With eyes of faith, however, we can trust in Jesus’ promises. Our life in Christ will bring blessings to ourselves as well as blessings to others here on earth, and even greater blessings in heaven.
Let us ask the intercession and inspiration of all the Saints that we may walk the path of holiness by living out the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Being poor in spirit is relying on God for his help to get us through life. Being poor in spirit is admitting that we are sinners in need of God’s grace and help. Being poor in spirit is admitting that we are absolutely nothing without God and that everything we have comes from God.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord God, just like the holy ones we honor today, You call us to be saints ourselves. You want each of us to be someone in whom Christ lives again, someone who makes it easier for others to believe in you, someone who lets God’s light shine through. Through the intercession of all the Saints, grant us a great desire for sanctity – a stubbornness about doing your will always and in spite of any difficulty. Amen.