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.”

Friday, 1 November 2019 : Solemnity of All Saints (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints as part of what is usually called the Allhallowtide, a period of time when we focus our attention on the matter of life and the life to come, when we look upon the glory of the saints as how we usually celebrate the All Saints Day and also remember our beloved ones who have departed from us, on All Souls Day tomorrow.

On this day, we focus our attention on our great and holy predecessors, holy men and women whom the Church has thoroughly examined and determined to be worthy of the glory of heaven. They are those who have been canonised and declared as saints, as those who are believed to be with God in heaven by the many virtues of their lives, by their faith and dedication to God, and quite a few of them laid down their lives for their faith.

Today as we look upon those virtuous and inspiring predecessors of ours, we must understand well who the saints are, how they can help us in our own journey of faith, and what we can do to emulate their own good examples in our own lives. There are unfortunately many among us Christians who do not truly understand or even misunderstood the role of saints in the Church, and who the saints truly are.

First of all, saints are not equal or similar to gods or deities unlike those of the polytheistic religions or beliefs. We do not worship or adore the saints on the same level as our worship or adoration of God. Many Christians within the Church misunderstood or are confused with this and ended up worshipping the saints and prayed to them as if they are able to help us by their own power and might.

And there are also many outside the Church, both Christians and non-Christians alike who also thought that the saints are worshipped in the manner of the worship of the divine, which is clearly not true at all, and is a gross misinterpretation of our true Christian faith and practices. Instead, the saints are venerated and respected, as those who can intercede and pray for us before God.

It is important for us to take note that while saints are those who have departed from this world into the heavenly glory with God, this does not mean that they have been separated from us. In truth, they are still as much part of the Church as we are part of God’s Church. It is just that unlike us who are still struggling through the challenges and temptations of this world, as those who are part of the Church Militant, the saints of God are those who have triumphed through life and are enjoying the fruits of their virtuous life, as the Church Triumphant.

And as the members of God’s one and same Church, and having once walked on this world as we are now, certainly the saints of God are always thinking of us and praying for us. They want us to join them in the glory of heaven praising God as fellow brothers and sisters in faith. However, they cannot help us on their own power or ability as mentioned, as they are neither gods nor deities.

Instead, when we ask the saints to pray for us, they can then exercise that privilege they have, being closer in the presence of God than us, and having lived virtuously in faith, to ask God for favours on our behalf. This is what true intercession of saints is like, and not as what many have misunderstood in the true intention and purpose of saints in the life of the Church. The saints of God are essentially reflections of God’s light and glory.

There are two ways I can think of in order for us to be able to understand the concept of saints better. Let us all first think of the beautiful stained glasses of our churches, where those stained glasses usually depict the many stories of the lives of the Lord, His blessed mother Mary and also the many saints and martyrs of the Church. Those stained glasses are beautiful, but let me ask this of you, can the stained glass be seen when the whole church building is in total darkness without any source of light at all?

Certainly in that scenario, we cannot see the stained glasses at all, no matter how beautiful they are. They do not give light on their own accord. In the same manner therefore, the saints do not become glorious or mighty by their own power, but rather they embody the power and the glory of God. Just as the stained glass can be visible because of the light that pass through them, thus the saints also reflect the wonderful light of God through their own lives and examples.

God created us all to be beautiful and wonderful, but we have chosen to cover all those beauty and wonders by our sins and rebelliousness, preferring to act in the manner that is contrary to God and His will rather than to obey and follow Him. Compared to the stained glass metaphor again, it is as if we are like the stained glasses that are so filled with dirt and grime that they cannot be seen even with light being all around them.

The saints themselves were not perfect, brothers and sisters in Christ. They were just like us, same with us, as stubborn and sinful as we were, as wicked and unfaithful, unjust and corrupted by sin as we are. But what is most important is the fact that they made a conscious choice in each of their lives to turn away from sin and to embrace God and His ways fully, taking up His cross and followed Him wholeheartedly.

And then now, another way that we can compare or liken the saints to, is like that of a candle that cannot be seen on its own accord in the darkness, for candles cannot produce light on their own. Candles can produce light only when heat comes together with oxygen and the matter of the candle to produce beautiful flame that creates light. This is precisely the light that makes candles very precious, especially in the past before the advent of electrical power.

In the same manner then, let us all see the candles as our own lives. As long as the necessary conditions are not available, or that we prevent those conditions from coming together, the flame will not be initiated and no light will ever be produced from the candles. And thus, as long as our lives are deprived of the necessary conditions for us to be holy and just as the saints have been, we cannot follow in their footsteps.

And what are these conditions? It is the openness to the love and presence of God in our lives, allowing Him to enter into our lives and transform us from once beings of darkness and sin, into beings of light and filled with obedience to God. And as we allow the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives and transform us by our words, actions and deeds, then we will reflect the light and glory of God just as the saints and holy people of God had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must truly be thankful that we have all those wonderful role models for us to follow, all those many saints and dedicated holy men and women. And the greatest among all these is none other than Mary herself, the ever blessed Mother of God. For Mary is the greatest among all saints and the most wonderful among all of God’s creatures, having not just been the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, but she was also exemplary in her faith and dedication to God all her life.

Mary’s total obedience to the will of God even at the moment of her greatest uncertainty and perhaps even fear, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her bearing the Good News that she was to bear a Child, showed us what true Christian living and discipleship truly means. And she was not just virtuous and righteous throughout her life, but she even followed her Son all the way to Calvary, seeing Him bearing the burden of Cross and having to die for the sake of all mankind.

Mary’s amazing faith and her role as the Mother of God give her the special privilege and status being the one closest to Jesus, her Son in His glory in heaven. This is why many of us Christians have particularly strong devotion to Mary because we believe that as the greatest among all saints and as the one whom her Son loves dearly, she is indeed our greatest intercessor before God, just as she is also the perfect role model for us Christians to follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now having discussed all these, let us all think and discern how we can make our own lives to be holy like those of the saints. Let us discern how we can allow God to enter into our lives and make us to shine brightly with His light so that we too can be examples and inspiration for one another in living our lives with good faith. Are we able to commit ourselves to God and to His path following the examples set by our holy predecessors?

Let us all be thankful for the wonderful gifts and opportunities we have, in having so many wonderful role models in our saints. Let us all therefore commit ourselves to a new life filled with holiness from now on, living our lives according to how the Lord has shown and taught us to live, following His laws and commandments, devoting ourselves in each and every days of our lives so that one day we too may share in the eternal glory of the saints of God in heaven. May God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 1 November 2019 : 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.”

Friday, 1 November 2019 : 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.

Friday, 1 November 2019 : 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.

Friday, 1 November 2019 : 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.”