01 November 2021 – All Saints (Year B)

By Fr Francis Anthony

Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14
Psalm 23:1-6
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12a

Saints: Our Role Models

My dear friends, if you followed the letters of St Paul, together with the other letters, you will see this word ‘Saints’ appearing very freely.  And in most of the occasion in St Paul’s reference, the Saints are not what you and I are thinking of today, those good souls who are in heaven and they are interceding for us.  For Paul, James and all, the Saints are those who are living.  It is here on earth.  We are coming to live our dignity. 

As I said in today’s opening prayer of the Mass, it says: The prayer of so many intercessors. Here, the Saints in heaven, they are the intercessors (we call them) and they are praying for us, and they are linking with us.  And in that process, God is linking himself with us.  Here is a very visual way of being able to recognize it.

Then in the 1st reading, we come to another aspect of who we are and here it says: We are the servants of God. Not the Saints here.  And it is these ‘Servants of God’ who will become the Saints.  Then in the same reading, another aspect is given to us.  It is here in this it says: You are the one who are praising God and you are the people of God.

So, whether you are the servants of God, whether you are people of God, you are here.  And it is here you are being transformed, you and I.  And it is here, and that is why very fittingly St Paul will refer to those people who were following Christ’s teaching, call them ‘Saints’.

And in the responsorial psalm, the challenge is given to us:
Who shall go to the temple of the Lord? or
Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
It is the one, as the text says, who with clean hands and pure heart and desires not worthless things.

So my dear friends, when we are speaking of the Saints, yes, all our elder brothers and sisters who have gone before us, living our faith, they have given us a role model how we are to live today.  And in today’s society, the challenge is given: How am I the light and the salt that Jesus demanded?

In today’s Gospel text, we are beginning the Sermon on the Mount, and we go further down we will have those verses.  And in this struggling, we are trying our best.  And so we will see now, very often we have this notion: “Oh Saints, I better pray to all these Saints.  They are the ones who will bless me.”  And, very sorry if that is the way we are going to treat the Saints, then we are abusing their power over us.  They have got the intercessory power and they are telling us: “Look at us, all the Saints, look at us, how we struggled and how we have moved to follow Jesus’ teaching, to make the teaching of Jesus real in my life.

And the gospel text throws the challenge in us: the Beatitudes How are we to be happy people, here and not in heaven?  And it goes:
Poor in spirit,
happy the gentle,
happy those who mourn,
happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right.

Yes, this is addressed to us, to you and me.  It is not for us to live in an idealistic world but in the challenges that come our way.  If we say we have no challenge and everything is okay, then we are not facing realities.

Then it goes on to say: Happy the merciful. 
We will go on bended knees to pray to the Almighty God, “Have mercy on me.”  And every Mass, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.”  And sometimes we try to be fashionable and we will say “Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison.”  But where?  It is here, and these Saints who are intercessors are helping us to follow this way of life.

Then it goes further: The pure in heart.
Is there an equal between what I say and what I think?  Very often many of us can be hypocritical.  To gain favour, we will butter them nicely but inside we are cursing. 

And then it goes: Happy the peacemakers. 
We are all famous for praying for peace.  But the Beatitude is telling: “You be the peacemakers and not the Saints, they did their role.  You and me today.

So my dear friends, when we are celebrating this Feast of All the Saints, we thank God for having given us our elder brothers and sisters who have followed, they have tried their best to live what the gospel text has given us today.  They tried their best to be the people of God.  They tried their best to be able to say ‘Yes, I will rise and I will come’.

So when we celebrate the Feast of All the Saints, yes we have every day one particular Saint, it is not putting it all and lump into a basket and making sure that no one is left and I am safe. No.  You can take any Saint you want.  Very often we will go for our Patron Saint and we ask that particular Saint: “Open my eyes to see the realities.  Open my heart to reach out to others.  You intercede for me.  You have gone through the journey of life, you are now in God’s presence.  Through your intercession, may I journey in my way of life to be with you, with you and the Saints, and to praise God and to say “Holy, Holy, Holy”.”

Today, when we are going to sing that hymn, try to imagine you are surrounded with all the Saints and the angels, praising God because you and I, here, are people, as the 1st text says:
We are the servants of God; We are the people of God

And in the 2nd reading it says:
We are the children of God.

Click below to listen to homily:-

Click to live-stream Mass on 1 November 2021