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.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 1-12a

At that time, when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up the mountain. He sat down and His disciples gathered around Him. Then He spoke and began to teach them :

“Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn; they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle; they shall possess the land.”

“Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God.”

“Fortunate are those who work for peace; they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

“Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are My followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God.”

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 1-3

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when He appears in His glory, we know, that we shall be like Him, for, then, we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope, try to be pure, as He is pure.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Monday, 1 November 2021 : Solemnity of All Saints (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 7 : 2-4, 9-14

I saw another Angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four Angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”

Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal : a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the Throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, Who sits on the Throne, and the Lamb?”

All the Angels were around the Throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the Throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, “Amen, Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honour, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution, they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Sunday, 1 November 2020 : Solemnity of All Saints (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, that coincides with a Sunday this year. On this day, which marks the celebration of the glory of all the saints, holy men and women of God. All the innumerable saints of God are an integral part of our Christian faith and the Church as well.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, the saints are very much part of the Church, as the Church Triumphant, which are part of the Universal Church together with us, the Church Militant, those who are still in this world struggling daily in the spiritual struggles for our souls and enduring the lives in this world, and of course also the Church Suffering, made up of those souls of the faithful departed in purgatory, still waiting for their time to enter the glory of Heaven.

All these three groups are part of the whole Universal Church, and are united in our faith together in God. And today we focus our attentions on those who have been officially proclaimed by the Church to merit the official veneration as saints, through the process known as Canonisation. All the saints through their various virtues and through courageous witness of their faith have been declared as worthy of heavenly glory and veneration by all Christians.

There are those who misunderstood our veneration of saints, a practice that had originated from the very beginning of the Church itself, and which had roots even from before the time of Christ, as the people in Jesus’ time did believe that some of the holy people were in heaven, like that of Enoch who was taken up into heaven, as was the prophet Elijah and others like Abraham, alluded in the Lord’s parable when He spoke of the story of Lazarus and the rich man.

All of these pointed out to the universal belief of the Church and the faithful that there were those whom God had called and excelled such that they merited the glory of Heaven, and that they are our intercessors, namely those who pray for us before God. Those who misunderstood this veneration of saints drew their misunderstanding from the excesses and the lack of proper catechism for those who venerated the saints.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, there are numerous devotions to the saints, chief and most popular of which is of course that of Mary, the Mother of God herself and the greatest among all the saints. Also we have St. Joseph, St. Peter and St. Paul, the other Apostles, particularly St. Jude, patron of hopeless and lost cases. In more recent saints we have devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pope St. John Paul II among others.

But many of those who practiced the devotions and venerated these saints sadly did not fully understand what they were doing. They adored the saints as if they were like God and became superstitious in their practices, thinking that the saints could grant them whatever it is that they wanted. They thought of the saints as miracle and wonder worker for their own various desires, giving them the answer to what they wanted.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is we often get wrong about saints. Saints are not like gods and goddesses, deities like that of other beliefs and religions. On the contrary, saints exist and are declared as such by the Church to glorify God, and to elevate the glory of God even further by the examples and faith of the saints. And they also serve as inspirations and good examples for us to follow that we ourselves too can become holy as they are. Through their intercessions, they brought our petitions with them and presenting them before the Lord.

If someone were to ask why do we seek the intercession of the saints, then we can indeed explain it in this way, that we are asking these wonderful, pious and faithful predecessors of ours to pray for us, just like how we ask our friends and one another to pray for us and for them. If we can ask those who are still in this world to pray for us, then why can’t and shouldn’t we ask those whose lives have been deemed and considered holy and pious that they are now standing in the glorious presence of God?

As the saints are nearer to God than us, and especially more so that of Mary, the Lord’s own mother, then surely with more people praying for us, our prayers will be so much more powerful. Through our combined prayers, God will work wonders, and through the intercessions of the saints on our behalf, God will help and provide for us in our hour of need. Indeed, it is so wonderful to know that we are all not alone in this journey of faith, and besides all those whom we know to be journeying with us in this world, we have even those who have gone before us, and praying for us, journeying with us and showing us the way.

We have all been called to be holy like all of those saints, as in truth, all of us have the potential to be saints. Just less than a month ago, a young teenager who was a computer geek and a seemingly ordinary young man was just beatified, and is now known as Blessed Carlo Acutis. He had deep faith in God and devotion to the saints, especially that of Mary, the Mother of God of whom he documented the many Marian apparitions as well as the many Eucharistic miracles that more people might come to know of them, just before he passed away due to leukaemia.

We also have many examples of saints who were once wretched and sinful. For example, St. Mary Magdalene was once according to tradition, an adulterer and had committed terrible deeds and sins before God. Yet, she was completely remorseful and sought to be forgiven and reconciled with God. And indeed, the Lord welcomed her back with open hands, and she became one of His closest and most trusted followers, whose faith and conversion experience became inspiration for many from then on.

There were many other examples of sinners turned saints throughout the history of the Church, and all of them can teach and show us that, no one is beyond God’s redemption, forgiveness and mercy. As long as one is willing to turn away from their sins and embrace wholeheartedly the Lord’s path and willingly walk in His path, then the path of the glory of Heaven will be open to us. We are all called to be like the saints in their lives and actions, in their contributions and efforts as the members of the same Church of God.

Saints are often compared to the beautiful stained glasses in our churches, which also frequently used to depict the lives of those saints. Surely we have had the experience of seeing how those stained glasses were so beautiful and wonderful, and they made the whole church became even more conducive for worship and for us to recognise the presence of God within. That is exactly how saints are like, brothers and sisters in Christ, for they are the stained glasses that give out no light on their own, but with light passing through them, their beauty are revealed to all to see.

And all of us are also like those stained glasses, brothers and sisters in Christ! Our lives in this world, our every actions and interactions, all shall either show holiness and faith, or instead, wickedness and evil. Just as there are those saints whose lives bring inspiration and hope to others, and righteousness and justice, there are also those who scandalised the Church and the faith by their actions, and by their refusal to repent and change their ways. The Lord said, nothing that is secret will stay hidden, and the light will reveal everything. So, just as good deeds will be discovered, our wicked deeds, no matter how hidden, will eventually be revealed.

Which one do we want to be then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we want to be those whose lives bring sadness, sorrow and suffering for others, by our own selfish actions, by our lack of faith and irresponsible behaviour and attitudes that led to others to question their faith, scandalising this Christian faith we have? Or do we rather be like the saints, whose lives bring about hope, renewal of faith and courage for one to love God?

God has given us free will to choose which path we want to take, and we have so many good examples to choose from the saints. If we wonder why is it that so many people have passed through this world, and yet, out of them, even though we have had so many people recognised as saints and blesseds, but all of these are still minuscule compared to the whole of mankind, that is exactly because it is so difficult to become saints unless we consciously make the effort to resist the temptations of evil in our world today.

All of us must realise that each and every one of us have the potential to be saints, and indeed, we are all called to be saints, to share in the love and grace of God. God has given us His love and blessings, and His sanctifying grace through our baptism. Through His Holy Spirit that He has given to us, He has given us faith and wisdom, the wisdom to choose what is right from what is wrong. Now, what matters is whether our love for Him is greater than our attachments to sin and evil, and whether our faith is stronger than the temptations that face us constantly and daily, all around us.

Today, as we celebrate and rejoice in the memory of all the glorious saints of God, let us all ask them all for their intercessions, especially from our blessed Mother Mary, and our own respective patron saints. Let us all ask for their continued intercession that God may strengthen us all in our resolve to live faithfully and walk with ever greater commitment in the path that He has set before us. Let us all look ever more carefully on the examples of the saints, holy men and women who had gone before us, and gain inspirations from their good examples, that we may also do the same in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be like the saints in all things, live as they had lived and model our own faith lives like their own. May the Lord, through the intercession of His many saints, help us and strengthen us all to be more courageous and committed to serve Him, and to love Him, becoming ourselves great examples of faith and inspirations to even more people. May God bless us all in all things and in all of our good endeavours and efforts. O Holy saints of God, our inspiration and source of hope, pray for us all, your brothers and sisters still struggling in this world, that we may one day join all of you in the glory of Heaven to praise God together. Amen.

Sunday, 1 November 2020 : Solemnity of All Saints (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 1-12a

At that time, when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up the mountain. He sat down and His disciples gathered around Him. Then He spoke and began to teach them :

“Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Fortunate are those who mourn; they shall be comforted. Fortunate are the gentle; they shall possess the land.”

“Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied. Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God.”

“Fortunate are those who work for peace; they shall be called children of God. Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

“Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are My followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God.”

Sunday, 1 November 2020 : Solemnity of All Saints (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 1-3

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when He appears in His glory, we know, that we shall be like Him, for, then, we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope, try to be pure, as He is pure.

Sunday, 1 November 2020 : Solemnity of All Saints (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to YHVH, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of YHVH? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from YHVH, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Sunday, 1 November 2020 : Solemnity of All Saints (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 7 : 2-4, 9-14

I saw another Angel, ascending from the sunrise, carrying the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice, to the four Angels empowered to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”

Then, I heard the number of those marked with the seal : a hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the Throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and they cried out with a loud voice, “Who saves, but our God, Who sits on the Throne, and the Lamb?”

All the Angels were around the Throne, the elders and the four living creatures; they, then, bowed before the Throne, with their faces to the ground, to worship God. They said, “Amen, Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honour, power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen!”

At that moment, one of the elders spoke up, and said to me, “Who are these people clothed in white, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, it is you who know this.” The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution, they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the Blood of the Lamb.”