All Saints Day - Solemnity
This is a joyous celebration: the Church on earth and the Church suffering rejoice with the Church triumphant. Today we celebrate what we proclaim in each Sunday of the year: “We believe in the communion of saints.” The solemnity of All Saints celebrates all the nameless people who strived to walk the path of Jesus and to redeem the world in union “with Christ through the deaths and resurrections of their personal lives.” Sainthood is a calling to which we are all heirs. To be a saint means living common lives and doing common things with uncommon generosity. The beatitudes are not impossible ideals, but ideal possibilities.
Today we honor not just the canonized saints, who are likely to be well known, but all the uncanonized ones, who are unknown and unrecognized. It is primarily for the inhabitants of that heavenly city that we have this celebration today. Revelation 7 points out the final state for those who have gone before us to meet the Lord.
The 144,000 is the result of the multiplication of 12 (tribes of Israel) and 12,000 (sealed from each tribe). In apocalyptic writing, numbers are significant. Thus, 144,000 means a perfect unlimited number. The seal that they receive is a protecting shield, it is the name of the living God. This seal protects them from the punishment that the messenger angels will wreak upon the inhabitants of earth
In Mattthew’s Gospel, Jesus preaches the good news of the Kingdom. He is the one who has fulfilled the O.T. promises and turned the world upside down. Through him, the poor in spirit, the hungry, the persecuted, the mourners, and the meek will be satisfied; through him the compassionate and the peacemakers will had their reward.
The readings of today point out that among those destined for heaven and among those already in heaven are both Jewish and Gentile Christians. We see the great multitude praising God and the Lamb in heaven. They now share in the victory of the Lamb and carry the palm of victory and wear the white robes of glory. Victory has been won. The readings also tell us that the victory was won not by words alone. They have gained a right to the victorious celebration because they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
On the Solemnity of All Saints, the Word of God reminds us that this is our day. We are to be joyous as we celebrate the solemn festival here below. Our lifetime is a pilgrimage to the heavenly city above. Yet it is only in the total commitment of our personality to Christ that we can make our robes white in his lifeblood and have the fulfillment of our hopes.We are pilgrims on our way home. The path is found in the beatitudes, and the end is found in heaven.
When Cardinal Manning was dying, he was asked how he felt. Like a school boy, he said, going home for the holidays.
It is fitting to hold a feast for what we are: God’s family of saints. We, the family of God, are in three stages of progress. We are the Church militant on earth, the Church suffering in purgatory, and the Church triumphant in heaven. We are all for one, and one for all.