1st November 2020

SUNDAY, SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

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Reading 1: Rev 7: 2-4, 9-14 We have a vision of the victorious followers of Christ rejoicing in his presence in the heavenly Kingdom. They come from every nation, race, tribe, and language.

Reading 2: 1 Jn 3: 1-3 St John tells us that in heaven we shall see God as he is. However, if we want to attain to this vision we must live like Christ.

Gospel: Mt 5: 1-12 Here Jesus stresses the qualities he wishes to see in his disciples, qualities we see exemplified in the lives of the saints.

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SAINTHOOD - A DAY'S JOURNEY AWAY

Who are the “All Saints” that we celebrate today?

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Carmelite mystic, talks of them in her short reflection on the feast of the Epiphany: “Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.” Simply put, we celebrate every soul, unknown and unnamed, that God has made worthy to enter into eternal life. Among them could be your grandparents, the priest who baptized you, the kind old woman of the village, the honest shopkeeper, the friendly neighbour, etc. Isn’t it a matter of joy and consolation to know that we have people in heaven who know us personally, and are looking out for us with their prayers? This realization of the presence of saints from among our ‘near and dear ones’ brings to the fore two truths:

1. Holiness is not a rarity, it is real and present.
2. It is not reserved for the privileged few, but a call given to all.

Holiness is not a rarity

Publicly declared saints may be a rarity. Those granted an extraordinary grace to live a life exceptionally radical, exceptionally inspiring, or are blessed with exceptional supernatural experiences, may be a rarity. But holiness is always real and present. There are glimpses of holiness all around us, if only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. And this is because, God is always present and active around us, if only we have the heart to recognize him. Pope Francis talks of this real and present holiness, in his apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, Gaudete et Exsultate [6-9], pointing out to the saints “next door”: “The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people…Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.” Let us stop for a moment and ask ourselves; if we have saints next door to us, are we a ‘saint next door’ to someone in any way?

Holiness is not reserved to a privileged few

it is a call given to all. The Gospel passage today is Jesus’ teaching on the Beatitudes, rightly considered as the ‘blueprint’ of holiness. And Matthew so clearly mentions to whom this ‘blueprint’ was given – everyone! Not just to Peter, James and John as at the Transfiguration; not just to the Twelve as at the Last Supper; not just to a larger gathering of faithful disciples as at the Ascension; but to the crowds. And what are the essential requirements of holiness according to the Lord’s blueprint? Extraordinary knowledge? Extraordinary spiritual experiences? Extraordinary gifts? “Happy are you who are poor in spirit… who mourn… who hunger and thirst for righteousness… who are peacemakers… who are meek, merciful, pure in heart… who suffer abuse, persecution and ridicule on my account.” In other words, Jesus spells out the life of one who wishes to be his disciple; and that means the one who renounces himself, takes up his own cross and follows him in loving one another as he has loved! And, consequently, that means, every person who calls himself or herself a Christian!

What does it take to become a saint?

Just today! We spend most of our life either living off the good and bad memories of the past, or preparing for a future we imagine or expect. Sainthood lies in the present. Holiness is just a day’s journey – today’s journey. We only have to try to be holy today, one day at a time. As we thank God for all the saints, their exemplary life on earth, as well as their prayers for us in heaven, let us pray in the words of that famous hymn, One Day at a Time: “Lord, help me today, show me the way, one day at a time.”

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Responsorial Psalm: Ps 24: 1-6

These are the people who seek your face, O Lord.

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