Feast of All Saints

The feast of today is a movable feast in some countries like Rome they celebrated it on 1 November and it was a public holiday. However, most of the Episcopal Conferences in the IMBISA Region decided to move the feast to Sunday so that many of the faithful may have an opportunity to celebrate this feast. This feast reminds me of the famous song “O when the Saints go marching in l want to be in that number.” We all want to be counted in that number of the saints, among those who have remained witnesses throughout their lives. Pope Boniface IV formally started the Solemnity of all Saints on May 13 609AD.

Today we celebrate all those who have attained heaven, we must not confuse this feast with the one we celebrate on November 2, which we pray for all Souls those in heaven and those who have not yet attained the heavenly glory. This is a great honour to be called a saint, we are all called to be holy. The church is like a manufacturing company for saints. If we are children of God we must live up to our calling taking the example of our Father who is full of compassion, who is all loving and full of mercy. A veil of mystery hides what lies in store for human beings beyond this mortal life here and now. Saint Paul recognises this fact when he says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard nor has it entered the human heart to imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Cor 2:9]. Still, the holy Scriptures provide a wealth of hopeful images to give a foretaste of what lies in store beyond this world, for those who love God. Those in heaven are no plaster saints but a glorious band of decent people who lived with such love, they went straight back to the God they loved so well. They went “marching in” happy to be meeting face to face with the One who always held them in the palm of his hand. Heroes and ordinary people. Some who have inspired the church for centuries, and other unsung heroes, living a quiet life of kindness and duty, pure of heart and gentle of spirit.

The world says, Blessed are the rich, because they can have anything they want. However, Jesus in the Gospel today says, Blessed are the poor in spirit. By poor in spirit he means those who put their trust in God rather than money; and those who admit that it is not their income, possessions or bank account that makes them rich in the eyes of God, but what kind of people they are. To be poor in spirit means that l can never do anything without consulting God first, the day of such a person starts with God and ends with God. The Gospel today talks about the gentle. Gentleness is not weakness, but a form of strength. St Francis de Sales used to say that you can catch more flies with a spoon full of sugar than a barrel full of vinegar. In Jesus book there is just no place for bullies and bullying. Jesus actually says, Blessed are the peacemakers. Happy are those who spread understanding among people, those who welcome strangers, and those who work for a more just and equal society. They are truly the children of God.

Today’s feast is not about the canonised saints but about all the good and holy people who have ever lived. None of us, I feel sure, is expecting to be a canonised saint. We do not fantasise that one day some pope will declare what saints we were. In its document on the Church, the Second Vatican Council wrote a chapter called The Universal Call to Holiness. Therefore, our Feast today is reminding us of our deep-down calling to become better people than we currently are. Sanctity is a divine gift in which we share. It is much too big for us to experience alone. As we share in the experience of sin and death, so too can we share in holiness and life. Each person is already implanted with the Spirit and the grace of God. The main thing that can prevent us from living by the power of God’s grace is not being aware that we have it. We are called children of God, not just in the after-life, but now, at this very moment and all through our lives.