for Sunday, November 1, 2015
What is a saint? Far too often we think of saints as those people who are really good and we are not among them. We forget that we are all called to be saints and to live our lives completely for God. Today's readings remind us how to live in our daily lives in a way which keeps us focused on serving God.
Our first reading is from the Book of Revelation. For many of us, this is a really odd book of the Bible that has all kinds of images and which can be used to prove almost anything. It is in this book that we encounter the famous number of 144,000 who will be saved. If we take that number literally, probably you and I won't be among them! The point is not the number but that these person tried to be faithful to the Lord. That is our challenge today and it was the challenge of all the saints. Those whom we consider saints are those who did the works of God while they were alive in this world.
The second reading today is from the First Letter of John and makes the point that we are children of God. This is a gift of the Father's love. Perhaps we don't always feel very much that we are children of God and in our modern world so much of reality is based on feeling. John wants us to know that we are children of God. From that knowledge we can begin to act and eventually our feelings can come to accept the reality that we are children of God.
Sometimes we have to ask ourselves: do I really believe? And we have to remind ourselves that believing is not feeling. Sometimes we feel our belief and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we feel as if we believe in nothing. Yet feeling is not believing. Feeling is about what we feel, not about what we have decided is the ultimate truth.
The Gospel from Matthew today describes how a believer tries to live: poor in spirit, mourning, meek, seeking righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers and accepting persecution. We may find ourselves a long way apart from these values and ways of living, but we can still choose to embrace them because it is the invitation of God Himself. At times it even seems that when a person embraces even one of these beatitudes, then all the others come along. The challenge is to recognize that I can choose this way of living because it is Jesus Himself inviting me. It is not my own human strength. I am a child of God and a brother or sister of the Lord.
All of this helps us realize why we celebrate this Solemnity of All Saints today. These ordinary women and men became great because of their commitment to the Lord Jesus. These women and men sought God as the main focus of their lives. These women and men served others with love. The number of the saints includes Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jewish people, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and every other brand or type of person, including those who never even explicitly believed. We Catholics venerate in a special way the Catholic saints recognized by our Church even as we also recognize that saints have always been living in our own times and are found among all peoples and beliefs.
We Catholics believe in a "communion of the saints," which means that all who have died and all who still live are able to touch one another's lives in some mysterious way. Those who are with God are still able to intercede for our well-being and we are able to be in relationship with them. Our faith is not about being alone, but about being with all others through all eternity. Today we give thanks for those who have gone before us and who intercede with God for us. Let us rejoice with them!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Revelation 7.2-4, 9-14
Second Reading: 1 John 3.1-3
Gospel: Matthew 5.1-12a
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: