A REFLECTION: Solemnity Of All Saints
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: Matthew 5:1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s Solemnity honors all the Saints known and unknown. The known Saints are those men and women who were recognized for their exemplary lives of holiness and were beatified and canonized by the Church. However, there are also men and women who lived lives of holiness unknown and unrecognized. We call them the unknown Saints. The Solemnity of all Saints, therefore, is to venerate on this one particular day all the Saints known and unknown.
We do not worship the Saints, we venerate them. Worship and Veneration are two different things. Only God is worthy of worship, adoration, and praise. Worship can be more completely defined as showing respect, love, reverence or adoration which should be attributed to God alone. While Veneration can be defined as respect or awe directed toward someone due to his /her value or greatness.
But why do we celebrate “All Saints’ Day?”
Let me give you at least three reasons:
First: The Celebration of All Saints is like a prefiguration of what our future would be i.e. we all belong to a communion of Saints. Heaven is our final destination. And therefore Holiness should ultimately be what we aspire for. As what Oswald Chambers said “Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man. For us who are still on a pilgrim on earth, we are hoping that with the grace of God we too will be one with the Saints.
Second: Since we are in the pursuit of Holiness…we need models. The lives of the Saints are worthy of our reflection that may inspire us to go on. We look up to Saints as models of holiness. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him.”
Third: The Celebration of All Saints serves to us all as a challenge. Nobody is born a saint. It is something you have to become …something for you to work out. The good news is that anyone can become a saint. You and I are candidates for sainthood. Sanctity is a choice – a product of our freedom. Our longings and aspirations in life should be perfection. Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How can we achieve perfection? How can we become Saints? Is perfection possible? Well, it is not easy, but it is possible. To be a saint is to understand the will of the Father, to keep them in our hearts and to do to the best of our capacities to realize them in our lives no matter what the costs may be. But it is not gonna be easy. Every day is a challenge. We are always like being pulled in two different directions i.e. to tread the path of righteousness or otherwise. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans presented us the same concern. Romans 7:15, St. Paul said “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
A man made a mess of his life. He got into a big trouble of drug addiction. As a result, he lost his job. His wife and children left him. His friends deserted him. His dad said he was on a path of destruction.
One day, his father visited him and asked him these questions. “Son, is this really the life you want? How many failed relationships will you have? Those questions made him think. And filled with guilt along with shame. He cried profusely. And he asked his father for help. That recognition of his faults led him into his conversion. He prayed and he embraced Jesus once again. Eventually, with the help of his father, he was rehabilitated. And he said to himself, “I made things right with God by receiving Jesus into my heart.”
Remember in our pursuit of holiness…we are not alone. God is always with us, inspiring us, giving us the strength to persevere, guiding us and leading us the way that we may succeed.
This is the reason why Jesus gave us the Beatitudes in today’s Gospel according to Matthew. The Beatitudes serve as our blueprint in our pursuit of holiness. Here Jesus challenges the values of the world. The values embodied in the Beatitudes are the values that we as a pilgrim Church are called to embrace to show that we are true disciples of Jesus. Once we are able to live according to these values to the end of our earthly pilgrimage we will be like those servants mentioned in today’s First Reading, robed in white, washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Beatitudes give us ways on how to live a life of holiness. Beatitudes are sometimes called “beautiful attitudes” or “be happy attitude.” For finding holiness is finding beauty and happiness.
To be holy is to be close to God. Holiness can be achieved by the kind of response we give to the grace of God.