November 1 Solemnity of All Saints Year B
Readings: Revelations: 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
This Sunday we celebrate the solemnity of All the Saints. The earliest observance of a feast in honor of All the Saints was a commemoration of “all the martyrs” instituted in the Eastern Church in 400 A.D. The purpose of this Feast serves to commemorate all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, known and unknown, who have moved on to their eternal glory. The Solemnity of all the Saints gathers God’s holy ones, in heaven and on earth, to celebrate the triumph of God which is already (for those in heaven) and not yet (for us). Today’s readings reflect this on this perspective. The scene depicted in Revelation takes place in the presence of God and the Lamb. Here the vast multitudes of saints gather, their robes made white by the blood of the Lamb, with palms of victory in their hands, giving glory and praise to God. This Feast makes us aware that we are all called to holiness and to sainthood. Every age, race, language, people and nation have produced saints, holy men and women who pleased God and now share in God’s glory. St Paul tells the Romans, that we are all called to be saints. In the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, we read that “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are called to be saints.” The First Reading speaks of “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, race, peoples and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation from our God who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!” These are the people who suffered for Christ and “who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” It is the blood of Jesus Christ which brings salvation but only to those who have united with him in sharing its effects. Many of them, of course, are martyrs and they have mingled their own blood with that of Jesus. These are the saints we remember today; the men and women who have endured the ups and downs of life and finished their stay on earth in total victory in Christ.
The Gospel is passage on the Beatitudes from Matthew’s perspective which shifts the focus from heaven to earth. The Beatitudes offer us, as it were, a charter for holiness as followers of Christ. They focus on the values of Jesus as against the values of the world. Jesus rejects what is held in high esteem by the world. The Beatitudes are a kind of a mission statement of what a good Christian should be. Blessed are those poor in spirit; persons who have only God as their fulfillment in every need. Blessed are the gentle: the people who humble themselves considering others first, constantly are aware of the needs of others. Blessed are those who mourn: those who are in grief or sorrowful for their sins and for the time lost in sin; they will be assured of comfort. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, they will be satisfied, not by worldly material things, but by God’s word. So what is the message? 1) The feast of all the saints reminds us that we are all called to holiness and to sainthood; 2) You and I can become saints, if we too live the Beatitudes as our charter of holiness; 3) May we be encouraged by the many examples of the saints in heaven to walk the path they walked that some day we too may triumph and be counted among the saints.
©2008 John M. Mbinda