Homily for XXXI (31) Sunday (The Solemnity of All Saints) Year A. 01-11-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14
Psalm: Psalm 23(24): 1-6
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
Today we celebrate The Solemnity of All Saints, a unique occasion to remember all the saints both known and unknown. As Catholics it is our belief that there are always many people who in varying degrees carryout God’s will and in fidelity merit that crown of eternal glory. Some are known to us and are officially canonized saints of the Church, while even a greater number remain unknown without official canonization. That doesn’t mean that they have not received their reward of the beatific vision. This is why today is a very important day in the lives of Christians everywhere as all heroes of our faith are being celebrated. So this celebration in addition is an expression of the unbroken communion between all the members of the Church; the church militant (those of us still alive struggling with the ravages of sin to make heaven), the church suffering (those who have died and are undergoing purification to enable them see God face to face), the church triumphant (those who have lived their lives true to their Christian calling and have now received the crown of glory in heaven beholding the face of God). This last group is the category of the saints, and sainthood is the final destination of all who are called to be Christians. Therefore, it is our celebration too since it is a foretaste of our future condition as pilgrims who are heaven-bound. For this celebration reminds us all that in the final analysis, all of us are called to be Saints. The question we should all ask ourselves now is how can we become saints?
The answer to our question is expressed in the vision of John about the saints, which we have in our first reading. He saw a great multitude of people impossible to count, 144,000 out of all the tribes of Israel, and people from every nation, race, tribe and language, standing with palms before the throne. This means that sainthood is a universal calling that is not restricted to just a select few, and this further reinforces the universality of the salvation wrought by Christ as taught also by St. Paul who said ‘God wills that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).’ These saints are not people without the weakness of the human condition. However, they are people who did not allow their weaknesses to keep them down and make them lose their goal, but by daily striving, they were open to the Spirit of God who enabled them to carry out the will of God and today they have received that crown of eternal life. As John puts it in his vision, “these are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.”
Can we also be Saints like them? Yes, we can if we also wash our robes white in the blood of the Lamb. But how? We can do this when we decide to begin to live out the beatitudes as contained in Christ’s teaching on the mount today. These beatitudes are eight ways in which we can welcome God into our lives. And this is how the saints lived while on earth. They spent their lives emptying themselves to allow God’s plan to work in them just as St. Paul says in Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” They were real people from every walk of life; laity, religious, and clergy, who had faith, hope, love, and courage in the face of tribulations. This courage led them to live the sacrifice of Christ in their lives and make God’s love real and concrete in a world infested with so much hate. In other words, they put God first in their lives. Their lives challenge us today to ask ourselves how much are we ready and willing to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God? Some of these heroes sacrificed everything including laying down their lives after the example of Christ. For having followed their master Jesus faithfully, today they have merited the title of God’s children even though the world did not acknowledge them. Truly they are now one with God as they can see Him as He really is.
As today we sing, ‘Oh when the saints go marching in, O Lord I want to be in the number…,’ let us also seriously ask ourselves whether we will be in the number at all. Are you ready to be in the number? If you truly want to be in the number, then purge yourself of every impurity and put God first in your life and follow in His footsteps faithfully to the end in loving trust and courage. What is the position of God in your life? He has to be number one. May the Lord give us the courage to put Him first and follow Him faithfully to the end so that we can also merit the crown of the Saints. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.