Homily for All Saints by Fr Carlos 1 Nov. 2021
Why do we still celebrate All Saints’ Day when all the while we are celebrating Saints’ feast day through the year: St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 28; St. Augustine on Aug. 28; St. Theresa of Lisieux on Oct. 1; Jan 26 our Holy Founders etc. Beside these saints we celebrate yearly there are countless other saints and martyrs, men and women and children united with God in His glory whom we do not celebrate. Many of these would be our own parents and grand parents who were heroic women and men of faith. Today we keep their honorable memory. IN many ways therefore, today’s feast can be called the feast of the Unknown Saints, in line with the tradition of the Unknown Soldier. We celebrate what the first reading called, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. Rev. 7 :9
Our feast today gives us a peek into our own eternal destiny. It confirms the existence of heaven. That the just person attains his or her fullness only beyond earthly existence. It gives courage and strength and hope to those who live the Way of Christ amidst unsettling hostilities shown against those who are determined to live a good life, to persevere in spite of threats to life. The saints we celebrate are human like all of us. Where we are now they used to be and where they are now we hope to be.
As Christians we believe that our life story is not limited between the day were born and the day we die. Our story starts before we are born, at our conception, and goes beyond the day we die, to all eternity. That is why we do not simply forget people after they die.
Didn’t St. Therese of Lisieux say that she would spend eternity doing good on earth? IN our mortal eyes she is dead and gone. One minister told me why do Catholics pray for the dead. They are dead and no longer with us. IN the eyes of faith we know hat she is alive now more than ever. This is our consolation when a dearly beloved dies. We hope that they are in heaven helping us. The church declares, by canonization saints who are in heaven. It would be uncharacteristically catholic for a catholic not to believe that a canonized saint is in heaven. We hope that our loved ones are in heaven but we believe that The Saints are in heaven and so we are, assured by the church. Unfortunately, our reaching the fullness of life with the saints does not happen automatically. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who dos the will of my Father in heaven.” Matt 7:21. How do we live the Father’s will. The beatitudes point us in that direction – the Fathers wills them for us. It’s a kind of map to eternity.
All the Saints we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the Beatitudes to arrive at heavenly bliss. It is a hard and narrow path for those who do not believe. For the Saints it was the sure way to heaven. The Beatitudes challenges us not to talk about insights and inspirations. They remain in the mind until we walk in it. The world today needs doers of the Word.
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 justice. They challenge us to be compassionate people, to be men and women who are pure in heart, and to become the peacemakers in our dealings with one another, in our families, community and society, even when this approach to things exposes us to ridicule and persecution. It has nothing to do with going into ourselves and making ourselves holy by our private devotions. If the beatitudes are not present in our devotions or private spirituality then it is a false spirituality that does not want to take the narrow paths the Saints have taken. We will not hear the words of the Lord, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter the joys of your master.”
In the early church All Saints was celebrated with as much pomp and joy as Easter. This is the feast of every triumphant human soul, the feast that mirrors the hope of every Christian. The Church professes to the world that there is an existence after this life on earth. This profession is so important for our world today when many, even Christians, live a life as if there were no tomorrow beyond our space and time.
All Saint’s Day is a joyful day because it is the consequence of traversing the narrow paths to holiness. As it is often the case our unenlightened spirituality makes us avoid these narrow paths: we cannot be disturbed in our relation with God, we are deaf to those who come for help, we take for granted the needs of those around us because we are busy talking to God and doing good things for Him. Most of the time our self understanding of holiness is God and me alone, the rest are just bothering my concentration with my relationship with God. All Saint’s Day reminds us that not all those who say Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven. It will only be those who spent their time and energy for the sake of others for after all the God whom we want to communicate with is in them.
A happy and blessed All Saints’ Day to all.