A veil of mystery hides what lies beyond this mortal life here and now. Saint Paul recognizes when he says that “No eye has seen; no ear has heard, nor has it entered the human heart to imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Cor 2:9].
But yet holy Scriptures gives us a glimpse of what lies beyond this world, for those who love God. Those in heaven are no plaster saints, without human failures, but it is a glorious band in the heavenly realm. People who lived lives of love, so they went straight back to the God. And that is true for both canonized and un-canonized Saints. We know all the canonized: The blessed virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Thomas, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary Salome, St. Veronica, St. Mary James, St. Mary and St. Martha of Bethany, St. Joanna, St. Susanna, St. Francis, St. Anthony, St. Michael and all the angels, and the list goes on.
They went to meet with the One who always held them in the palm of his hand. Heroes and ordinary people. Some who have inspired the church for centuries. Others are the unknown heroes, living a quiet life of kindness and duty. We can all call some of these people to mind. Many of us have weird notions of what a saint looks like. We often think that famous people are perfect and infallible. But these people are as fallible as we are all. But is it really true that the saints never broke the rules (St Augustine?), never experienced the dark night of the soul? Do you think Saints did not enjoy life or had a sense of humor? St. Theresa of Avilva said: ‘God save us from sullen Saints’. You think the Saints never broke into a great smile? The answer is, ‘of course it is not true.’ The saints were fully human. They struggled with temptation; they savored life’s joy.
On All Saint’s day we think of all the good people who have crossed our lives - parents, grandparents, classmates, parishioners here in the parish. They were not perfect, but they were in their own way great human beings and enriched our lives. That reminds me of the story of a priest who asked his class: what do you have to do to become a saint? One hand shot up: ‘You have to die, Father’ said the little boy. In a way he was right of course but we also know many living saints who are on the way to eternal union with him. Sanctity is not an achievement of our own but a divine grace in which we share. We cannot experience it by ourselves. We are all called to holiness. Each person is anointed with the Spirit and the grace of God. We only have to be aware of the power of God’s grace. is not being aware that we have it. We are all children of God, not only when we die, but right here and now. “A great multitude that no one could count”, we hear in the book of revelation today. God is rich in mercy. As Jesus told us: “In My Father’s House there are many mansions”. There’s place there for all of us. Jesus has told us how to get there. He shows us how to be people after Gods own heart. We know that these qualities are different from the world.
The world says, blessed are the rich, because they can have anything they want. But Jesus says, blessed are the poor in spirit. By poor in spirit he means those who put their trust in God rather than money. The world says, blessed are those who live it up, and never stop having fun. But Jesus says, blessed are those who mourn. He means those who let themselves feel the misfortune, pain and sorrow of others, and know how to respond with empathy and compassion. The world says, blessed are the bullies, the tough, the dividers and the aggressive with big mouths. But Jesus says, blessed are the gentle. Gentleness is not weakness, but a form of strength. The world says, blessed are those who hunger for power, status, and fame. But Jesus says, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The only power and status we really need is to keep living in God!
The world says, blessed are those who show no mercy! But Jesus says, blessed are the merciful. Happy are those who forgive mistakes and whose greatness lies in their ability to forgive. They will receive mercy and forgiveness from God for their own sins. The world says, Happy are those that know how to maintain a beautiful body. But Jesus says, blessed are those with clean and beautiful hearts. It’s from the heart that all our thoughts, words, and actions flow. The world says, blessed are those who get even and exact revenge. But Jesus says, blessed are the peacemakers. Happy are those who spread understanding among people, welcome all and strive for an equal society. They are truly the children of God. The world says, blessed are those who lie and cheat and get away with it. But Jesus says, blessed are those who make a stand for what is right and true. Jesus practiced what he preached. In his own person he was the beatitudes. Living them day after day.
Today’s feast is not about the canonized saints but about all the good and holy people who have ever lived. Maybe we don’t expect to be a Saint one day, but today’s is reminding us of that deep calling to become better people! It is reminding us that Jesus Christ can and will empower us to live what he preached and lived. We need Him to show us the way, the truth and the life! We need to follow him and become the people God wants us to be! And we always need to receive Him as our Bread of Life in the Holy Eucharist to strengthen us on our journey through life. Amen!