Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, celebrating the memory of the Lord’s innumerable great saints, all those who have been found worthy and been officially canonised as saints by the Church, and therefore worthy of veneration by the entire Church and all the faithful. Today we remember the glorious deeds and the lives of those saints, our own holy predecessors, all those who have given themselves and their whole lives in the service of God, who lived worthily of God.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Book of Revelation of St. John the Apostle which detailed his glorious vision of Heaven as he received it during his exile at the island of Patmos. St. John saw a great number of the descendants of Israel, as well as innumerable people of every nations and races, all gathered and brought together in the presence of God. They were all those whom according to the Angel that guided St. John, had lived their lives with faith in God, and there were still many among them who had been persecuted for the Lord.

What St. John had seen in his vision was a proof that there is life and existence beyond death, and the saints represent all those whom the Lord had deemed to be worthy to join Him in the glorious kingdom He had prepared for them in Heaven, where they would be all His people and He would be their God forevermore. Sin and death would no longer come between Him and them, and those saints, some suffering persecution before they gained the promised eternal glory, all have been faithful to God to the very end.

In our second reading today, we then heard from St. John the Apostle in his Epistle, the same St. John who had seen the heavenly vision at Patmos. Whether St. John wrote this Epistle before or after his exile at Patmos and the vision, he knew, after having journeyed with the Lord and receiving the truth through the Holy Spirit and Wisdom of God, that all of us are truly beloved children of God, and therefore as God’s own children, therefore, we are called to be more like our heavenly Father in all things.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that since God is our Creator and our Father, and as He considered us all His own children, then naturally all of us as His children must be like Him in all things, just as children usually follow after the example of their parents, especially their fathers. It is just right and fitting that as God’s children that we walk in the path of righteousness and justice, to be good just as our Lord and God, our heavenly Father is all good and perfect.

St. John therefore exhorted all the faithful and the Church to follow the Lord faithfully and commit themselves to a new life and existence centred and focused on God, one in which we, the children of God, are living our lives with virtue and goodness, with faith and devotion to God, that we truly belong to God and everyone who sees us, hears us and our words, witnesses our actions and interactions, all shall know that we come from the Lord, and may come to believe in Him as well through us.

How do we then do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Then remember what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in which Our Lord spoke to the people in His Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes, detailing the eight ways in which we can be truly blessed living our lives with faith, and when the Lord Jesus praised all those who have lived their lives virtuously according to the Eight Beatitudes, in fact He was exhorting and telling all of us to do the same with our lives.

To be poor in spirit does not mean for us to be physically and materially poor, but rather, it refers to an attitude that we must have in life, to be humble in our disposition and way of life, to be humble and meek in seeking God’s love and fulfilment, to be poor and truly in need of help and guidance from God. We ought not be proud and haughty, ambitious and selfish in our way of living and interaction with each other. Instead, we should always seek the Lord and His love and providence at all times. This is what is meant by being poor in spirit.

Then as we seek justice and righteousness in life, just as we all seek to be merciful in our actions and deeds, in our words and interactions with one another, and in being pure in our hearts, in our conviction and path, we are all called to be exemplary in how we live and act towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and those whom we encounter in life. We should strive to be good and righteous and caring towards those who need our love, care and attention.

And then as the Lord also mentioned, we should all seek to make peace and bring harmony in our communities, and wherever we are. We must also be prepared to be persecuted, rejected and oppressed, challenged and our lives made difficult by those who still refused to listen to the Lord and believe in Him. That is because our Christian faith and way of life are often incompatible to the ways and the norms that this world is accustomed to, and many will come to oppose us because they disagree with our faith and way of life.

We must not be afraid, brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember what St. John had seen in his vision? Those martyrs who had shed their blood in the Lord in martyrdom had been blessed and taken up to Heaven for their faith and endurance in their commitment to Him, sharing in the Blood of the Lamb of God, washed clean and purified by their faith in God, as they shed their blood and suffered for the Lord’s sake. And there were many others who suffered other forms of martyrdom as well, such as white martyrdom that does not involve death, but full of suffering.

Listening to the Beatitudes and all that the Lord had revealed to us, we may then become skeptical and doubtful if our lives can become like the saints. After all, having known the lives of many saints, do they not seem like so holy, so good and much more worthy as compared to us? Many of us may think and feel that we are unworthy unlike those saints and martyrs who had done so much for the sake of the Lord and for the sake of the Church and God’s people. Yet, we forget that they too once were sinners just like us.

Saints were not superhumans unlike what some of us often misunderstood. They had their share of troubles and downfalls, moments when they faltered and failed in faith. Some of the saints were even once great sinners and enemies of the Lord, such as St. Paul the Apostle, once a young zealous Pharisee who was number one enemy of the Lord and His Church, persecuting many Christians throughout Judea and Jerusalem before he was called by God and converted to the true faith. Some others like St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Ignatius of Loyola and many others led a sinful and worldly lives in their younger days.

What matters is that, in the end, they turned away from their sins, committed themselves to the Lord and devoted their time, effort and attention on Him, such that they sanctified their lives through God’s grace and by their fervent dedication, in each of their own ways, in how they led lives truly worthy of God, and which we ourselves can also follow as well. By looking at the examples of the saints, we are all challenged to follow the Lord and to change our lives, much like how the Lord called Levi, the tax collector, who later on became a great Apostle and Evangelist, St. Matthew, as well as St. Mary Magdalene, who according to some traditions, was a prostitute.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God called us all to be holy, to be His beloved children and therefore, as holy as we should be. All of us have the potential in us to be holy and to end up like the saints, who are now enjoying the glorious inheritance promised to all, as their efforts and deeds were deemed worthy by God and His Church. God wants us all to realise that each and every one of us have the capability and the opportunity to be like the saints, if only we follow what our holy predecessors had done, as described in the Beatitudes.

Let us all therefore reform ourselves and change our way of life so that from now on we will live for the greater glory of God and to shine with the brilliance of God’s light and truth. Saints are indeed like the beautiful stained glass in our churches, not only because they are often depicted on them, their lives and ministry, but the fact that they do not produce light on their own, but are beautiful because of the light that shines through them. In the same manner therefore, the saints have no glory on their own save for the glory they have gained through the Lord, in their actions and deeds that are a reflection of God’s righteousness and justice, His truth and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are like that stained glass, and we are all given the opportunity to shine with the light of Christ. But as long as we live in sin, sin is like a dark and thick grease that sticks onto that glass and prevents any light from passing through. As such, a dirty stained glass that is our lives will not be able to shine forth with the light of Christ. How do we then proceed? It is by following the examples of the saints, and asking them for their intercession on our behalf just as we strive to do our best to live our lives in a most Christian manner. In that way, we are making that ‘stained glass’ which is our lives, clean and able to shine with the light of God.

Just as our holy predecessors had done, we have to strive to reject sin and all of its vile influences in our lives. We have to do our best to carry out God’s will and to do His commandments, to be righteous and just in our actions and dealings, to be selfless and loving in our every interactions. Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to live our lives from now on as dedicated Christians, modelling ourselves after the great many saints that are our role models? Let us ourselves be role models and inspirations for others to follow, by our own dedicated faith in life.

Let us no longer be saddled by the burden of sin, and instead, let us all, as Church Militant in this world, do our very best to live virtuously in the constant struggle against sin and evil, to be as good and worthy as possible, with the help of those saints, the Church Triumphant, who have already won their struggle, and ask them sincerely for their intercession and help, as they are closer to the Lord than us, that God will grant us His strength and grace to overcome the obstacles and the challenges we may encounter in life. And let us not forget to pray for the Church Suffering as well, our departed brothers and sisters who are still now suffering in Purgatory.

May God bless us all and strengthen us, that we may imitate and follow in the good examples of His saints, all those who have lived their lives worthily in the Lord. May God help us to live our lives worthily like His saints, that we too may share in eternal glory and true joy that is our inheritance, at the end of time. O Holy Saints of God, Holy men and women, our blessed brothers and sisters, the Church Triumphant in God, pray for us sinners! Amen.

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