Homily Solemnity of All Saints. F. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Rev 7:2-4, 9-11; Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab-6; 1 John 3:1-3 and Matt 5:1-12a
Sanctity, Everlasting Happiness Are Within Our Reach!
Sanctity is within our reach! We are call to be saints. Joy and happiness also seem to be the goal of most people. But where we look for this happiness and search for this joy varies from people to people, culture to culture, religion to religion. For us Christians, Christ is our source as well the “clouds of witnesses”, those saints, our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, who bore witness to Christ through the ages!
Therefore, the feast we celebrate today, All saints, is not just the feast of all Christians, but the feast that reminds us of the source of everlasting happiness, namely Christ and those saints, especially the unknown owns that imitated him.
No doubt, in all cultures there are countless of our forefathers, and mothers, brothers and sisters all over the world who have lived on this planet morally and charitably. They fought for our independence, and defended our faith traditions. They trusted in God, hope in God, worked for the common good, and today are in heaven, where we believe they “have seen God face to face(panim al panim). They have been blessed and rewarded by God, as euphemistically stressed by the Psalmist and in 2nd reading (1 John 3:1-3). They were not even known or documented by us, or by modern historians, except God.
The first reading from the Book of Revelation paints the victorious picture of these people, the clothes they wear, and the joy they share. From every nation, (continents), race, culture, and language they stood before God’s throne, right in front God, before his face, wearing white and beautiful garments that radiate joy. Joy in God’s presence that we long for, but comes with price of distress, hard work, sacrifices and love. This love is well coated in the eight matthean beatitudes, Jesus’ Sermon on the mountain today (Matt 5:1-12).
In order to join these saints, to see God face to face (panim al panim), as Abraham, Moses and our faithful fore fathers and mothers did, each of us must strive to humbly trust God who is manifested in Christ Jesus and in the teachings of his Church. We must be poor in sprit. We must endeavor to mourn, empathize and sympathize with those who mourn or are in distress or experiencing hard times. A good example would be the poor that Pope Francis has constantly reminded. Another good example would be those sufferings from recent tragedies, hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, and terrorisms and addictions.
Meekness and kindness to our neighbors are also required. We also want to add justice and righteousness to that list especially in a world that justice continues to be elusive; justice to the voiceless, children and even to the mother planet that Pope Francis recently calls for in his encyclical, Laudato Si”- on Care for our Common home, that is the planet. Apart from justice, we are called in the Beatitude to be merciful to one another as Christ would have been merciful to us – to the biblical Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus, the woman caught in adultery, and to the royal official. Being merciful to one another brings us closer to God’s face.
Besides being merciful, upright of heart, purity of heart, consistency and objectivity count, as well as peace, righteousness, which cannot be disassociated from justice. Like the saints described in that first reading, who washed their robes in the blood of the lamb, with great distress, keeping the beatitudes, peace, love, justice, mercy, kindness, purity of heart- these, sometimes comes with persecution and all types of oppositions.
Let us keep this at the back of our minds as we constantly search each day for the face of God, joy and eternal happiness with the saints, in our prayers, in our relationship with our neighbors, and in through our daily good works. Sanctity is within the reach of everyone!