“...These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)
Reflections on the readings for the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1, 2021): RV 7:2-4,9-14; PS 24:1-2,3-4,5-6; 1 JN 3:1-3; MT 5:1-12
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives...”
It is hardly surprising that the first of those faithful followers of our Savior who were honored as saints by the Church were those who suffered martyrdom. In the early centuries of the Christianity, persecution was a real threat in many places. Gradually those who lived prayerful, faithful, and heroic lives of service to our Lord and His people, as well as those people whose deep personal devotion, preaching, and writing encouraged others in a greater understanding of Christian life were also reverenced in this way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the saints, their place in heaven and relationship with those on earth, in this way: “The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise Him and constantly care for those whom they left on earth. … We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”
In the early 7th century an ancient temple called the Pantheon in Rome was converted into a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. Later, a chapel commemorating all the saints was consecrated in the old St. Peter’s Basilica. Around that time a feast honoring all saints grew in popularity and eventually became a universal holy day, although the actual date changed over the years. In the Gospel for today, we hear Jesus preach about the Beatitudes. These are not just suggestions for a good life, they are a description of Jesus Himself and all those who strive to imitate Him – in other words, saints. “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 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” (Matthew 5:6-7,11-12). These words are guides for us all because we are all called to be saints.