Today we celebrate the faith of all those who went before us: the men and the women who went to church and practiced their faith in thoughts, words and actions.  The lives of these saints began in families, with brothers and sisters.  Their faith in God grew and developed and first Communions and Confirmations were celebrated.  The life of love began to be lived out in diverse and different ways.  We also celebrate all those who did not share our faith but who, in their own way, id their best to respond to God in their lives.  The saints demonstrate lives of holiness in which extraordinary deeds of love are found in the ordinary moments of life.

Whether through prayer, care for the sick or parental love the saints witness to the hope of Christian faith; that we are each invite to see God face to face and live in communion with Him.

The ‘Beatitudes’ in our gospel reading today are some of the most quoted words in the whole of Scripture.  It is so familiar yet so startling.  While we have always respected them, we have tended to view them as classical literature, something to revere from a distance, like a famous painting in  a gallery.  How wrong we have been!

Jesus is not just crafting some beautiful poetry.  He is laying it on the line for all of us.  His words in the beatitudes paint the aspects of a life of sainthood.  These powerful words make terrifying demands: live humbly, with a pure heart, showing mercy.  They tell us, we can expect to mourn, to have people insult us and persecute us for Jesus’ sake.  But they also make enticing promises.

We need to get beyond our passive respect for the words in the beatitudes.  Only then can they transform our life and, as Jesus promises, bring us real happiness.  Henry Longfellow wrote:

“Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.

Pope Francis says:  “To be a saint is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.

We need saints without cassocks an veils.

We need saints with jeans an tennis shoes.

We need saints that go to the movies and listen to music.

We need saints that hang out with their friends.

We need saints that drink Coca-Cola and eat hot dogs.

We need saints that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods.

We need saints that love the Eucharist .

We need saints that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends.  We need saints who love to dance, and love sports and theatre.

We need saints that are open, sociable, normal and happy companions.

We  need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane.  We need saints.”

Our Pope adds:  “We too can be saints in our family, in our neighbourhood, wherever we live and work.  Be a person who listens to what people need communicating not only to grieve or tell others about your own problems.  Listen in order to intercede and help out.”    

Wish you Happy Feast of All Saints.

Fr. Michael