“These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb”. Revelation 7: 14
Readings: Revelation 7: 2 – 4, 9 – 14
1 John 3: 1 -3
Gospel: Matthew 5: 1 – 12
Each age has produced its crop of holy men and women who go to make the amazing galaxy of saints
in the Catholic Church. There are the canonized, the beatified, the venerable, the well-known and the
little known, coming from all walks of life, cutting across all time frames as well as age and gender
divides, some named in the book of saints many others not, all too numerous to be counted! Indeed, it
is to celebrate the grace-filled memory of all those in the realm of heaven who have accepted the saving
grace of Christ, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the Church has instituted the “Feast of All Saints”.
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, did 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.
Among the saints, who have lived and borne witness to the Paschal Mystery, Mary stands out as the
Prima Donna of motherhood and virginity because of her intimate involvements with God’s plan of
salvation. She is per se the perfection of the co-operation of human kind in the sacrifice of Christ.
The saints are exquisite masterpieces of God’s work. But this feast is meant to remind us that the stuff
each of them is made of is human flesh and blood like our own; that to be counted among the highly
favoured of the Lord, it is not enough to be a Christian. Rather, we ought to cherish in our heart, points
out St. Alphonsus de Liguori, “a desire to achieve sanctity”, to enter ever more deeply into the
death-resurrection mystery of Christ. The liturgical celebration of the feast of any saint and all the
saints provides such an occasion.
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: I quote,
“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 and veils. We need saints with jeans and 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.”
All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints
Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast
days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly
glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating
their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and
man (I Tm 2:5). The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are
called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to
the word wholesomeness. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity, truth,
justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others. (+ an anecdote)
Reasons why we honor the Saints: 1. The Saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of faith:
St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to
Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus.
The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration
- The saints are our role models: They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy
and unconditional forgiveness can, with the grace of God, be lived by ordinary people from all walks of
life and at all times.
- The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between
God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,). 4. The saints are the instruments that God
uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet
Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work
We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly
Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si
iste et ista, cur non ego?). We all can become saints by choosing well by doing good and avoiding evil,
by choosing to follow Christ, all the way to heaven.
We need to take the shortcuts practiced by three St. Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your
spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him ii) St. Therese of
Lisieux: Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of
souls and by doing God’s will to the best of your ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do
ordinary things with great love. Do something beautiful for God.
Diversity of Saints One thing that strikes you first about the Saints is their diversity. It would be very
difficult to find one pattern of holiness, one way of following Christ. There is Thomas Aquinas, the
towering intellectual, and John Vianney (the Curé d’Ars), who barely made it through the seminary.
There is Vincent de Paul, a saint in the city, and there is Antony who found sanctity in the harshness
and loneliness of the desert. There is Bernard kneeling on the hard stones of Clairvaux in penance for
his sins, and there is Hildegard of Bingen singing and throwing flowers, madly in love with God. There
is Albertus Magnus, the quirky scientist, half-philosopher and half-wizard, and there is Gerard Manley
Hopkins, the gentle poet. There is Peter, the hard-nosed and no-nonsense fisherman, and there is Edith
Stein, secretary to Edmund Husserl and colleague to Martin Heidegger, the most famous philosopher of
the twentieth century. There is Joan of Arc, leading armies into war, and there is Francis of Assisi, the
peacenik who would never hurt an animal. There is the grave and serious Jerome, and there is Philip
Neri, whose spirituality was based on laughter. How do we explain this diversity? God is an artist, and
artists love to change their styles. The saints are God’s masterpieces, and He never tires of painting
them in different colors, different styles, and different compositions. What does this mean for us? It
means we should not try to imitate any one Saint exactly. Look to them all, study their unique holiness,
but then find that specific color God wants to bear through you. St. Catherine of Siena was right: “Be
who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
Happy Feast of All the Saints. God Bless you.