The Solemnity of All Saints
Dear brothers and sisters,
As we rejoice today in this Solemnity of All Saints, we would do well to ponder the question posed to the Beloved Disciple by the elder: “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from” (Revelation 7:13)?
Looking upon this assembly we see the wide spectrum of humanity. We see men and women, boys and girls, rich and poor, famed and unrecognized. There are rulers and commoners, teachers and students, nurses and patients, prisoners and free, explorers and home-bodies, and, of course, the great martyrs.
What is it that unites such an assembly together? It is nothing less than their love of the Lord Jesus Christ and their constant fidelity to him.
Having encountered him in their daily living, they surrendered their lives to him; placing themselves in his service, they allowed his light to be refracted through them as if through a great prism, shining brightly and in splendid array upon humanity.
Some of their encounters with the Lord were so tremendously captivating that their lives took on a new direction almost instantaneously. Others were more common – though no less profound – and the gradual unfolding of grace led to a steady deepening of love.
Who, then, are these, and where did they come from? They come from every walk of life and every time and place. They are those who have been sealed on the forehead with the mark of the Lord’ Cross.
So aware of this mystical and sacred mark were they that they lived in the hope of seeing the Lord as he is and so, cooperating with his grace, made themselves pure (cf. I John 3:2-3). Being the people who longed to look upon the face of God (cf. Psalm 24:6), they gave witness to the Beatitudes in their varied imitations of Christ.
Standing now before the throne of God – in whose presence alone is the fullness of lasting peace and joy – they call to us and invite us to share in their blessedness by following their examples. The clear witness of their lives is like great lights illuminating the way that leads to him who is the Morning Star that never sets.
We, my brothers and sisters, are not much different than these men and women. We, too, have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ; the sign of his Cross has also been placed on our foreheads; we, too, have been clothed in white robes; we, too, have been united with him and nourished with his Body and Blood; and his grace is likewise poured into our lives every moment of every day.
These holy men and women desired friendship with God more than anything else; they stopped at nothing to remain his friends. And they invite us to do the same.
Very often, all that separates us from them is our weak desire – our less than fervent desire – for his friendship.
My brothers and sisters, let us desire the Lord’s friendship more than any other good. Let us be attracted to the numinous lives of the Saints and learn from them where true happiness lies.
The Saints provide for us a multitude of ways to deepen our friendship with God and show us that it is indeed possible to remain his friends and to walk in his ways.
God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints (Pope Benedict XVI, Address, 17 September 2010).If we live in this way, we, too, will be counted among that great multitude that stands before the throne of God in eternal happiness.
Let us then this day beg the Saints for their intercession, guidance and protection that we might live and die as they have done, seeking above all else and with great eagerness the face of God that we might forever be his friends. Amen.