SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS – YEAR A
November 1, 2020 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Revelation 7:2-4;9-14 | Psalm 24:1-6
I John 3:1-3 | Matthew 5:1-12
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
Today is All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day or Hallowmas’ the Feast of All Saints and Solemnity of All Saints. It is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honor of all the saints, past, present, and future; known and unknown.
In Western Christianity, it is celebrated on November 1 by the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and various other Protestant churches. November 1 is also the day before All Souls’ Day.
The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic and Byzantine, Lutheran Churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost, whereas the Church of the East and some other associated with the Eastern Catholic Church celebrate All Saints Day on the first Friday after Easter.
The celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day stems from the doctrine that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the Church triumphant) and the living (the Church militant). In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision or ultimate direct self-communication of God to the individual person, in Heaven. According to John Wesley, All Saints Day revolves around “giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints”, including those who are “famous or obscure”. As such, individuals throughout the Church are honored such as Saint Paul the Apostle, Saint Peter, Saint Mary, Saint Elizabeth, Saint John, and Saint Teresa, in addition to people you may know personally, who have led you to have faith in Jesus.
In some countries, All Saints’ Day is a public holiday. The Feast of All Saints, on its current date, can be traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731-741) of an oratory in Saint Peter’s Cathedral.
In English-speaking countries, such as ours, services often include the singing of the hymns:” For All the Saints” by Walsham How, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” and “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones”—all of which we have sung or will sing today!
In our first reading for today from Revelations, the disciple John was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos when he had a vision of salvation. It included people from every nation, race, and socioeconomic status. John understood God’s plan called for salvation to include everyone: Jews and Gentiles would be together. This universalism was upsetting to some Jews, and it led to Christian Jews being thrown out of their synagogues. Please note that the persecutors behind this act were not Jews, but Romans.
John predicted the eventual reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles and wants us all to embrace each other in this life as we will be together in the next one. The Book of Revelations, which we read from today in our first reading was written to encourage the early Christians who were persecuted by the Romans.
In our second reading from 1 John, we are referred to as “children of God” which is a metaphor meaning we are adopted children of God, not begotten. In apostolic times, to be adopted meant you were an heir of the Father. We will experience trials and suffering, and eventually death as part of the human experience. But after death, we will be one with God.
Today, we remember All the Saints, not just one or two specific ones as we do throughout the year on specific days. When we celebrate All Saints, we are honoring all the people whom we have known in our lives who are holy. We are celebrating with them the mystery of the Eucharist as we pray and praise God together. Since we are children of God as St. John states, we need to try to be like Jesus just as all the saints did. We need to encompass the ideas and attitudes stated in the beatitudes of today’s Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount.
As you may recall, the beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in a proverb-like proclamation.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Be satisfied with what you have. Share the good things we have with others because God wants us to.
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Comfort those who are suffering. Help others feel better about themselves after a loss.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” Humility is a true sense of who you are. Get the ego out of the way.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Do what is fair for everyone. Think What Would Jesus Do?
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Forgive those who are unkind to us. Always show kindness to others.
“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Do what is right because you know it is the right thing to do.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Do God’s will by doing your share to bring peace to the world. Always control your behavior so others can see Jesus in you.
“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Always stand up for God’s laws even if you are teased or insulted.
The Beatitudes propose a way of life in which we have empathy with the poor, the meek, those who mourn, and those who hunger and thirst after justice. They challenge us to be compassionate people and to be peacemakers in our dealings with others.
The saints we celebrate today did not have ambitions for wealth, power, or fame. They merely sought the eternal reward God gives to all his faithful ones at the end of this short earthly life.