Who Are You?

Today we celebrate the feast of All Saints. While many saints have their own specific feast day and are recognized by name, today is a day to remember all those who have gone to heaven but who are not formally recognized (canonized) by name, having lived their lives on earth in ordinary and hidden ways. How are we to aspire to this?

In reflecting on the Scriptures we hear today we can gain insight on how to make it home to God’s glory. These readings shed light on 3 key characteristics of what a saint should be. You could look at this like a recipe per se, each ingredient being crucial in living our lives towards heaven, in becoming holy people.

Someone who is a saint knows who and whose they are. We are all children of God, as the 1st letter of John states, and by recognizing this and living in this identity we are able to thrive. Just like someone who is raised by a mother and father has a clear sense of belonging and can simply be, so is it with our heavenly father and His Church. Can you imagine how much harder it would be for an orphan to have this confidence, this knowledge of who they are, where they come from, where they belong, and how loved they are?

John assures us of our worthiness and belonging, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” God has claimed us as his own, His beloved children.

Becoming a saint is all about knowing who we are!

Secondly, someone who is a saint lives their life out of a desire for God. As John’s letter further states, “What we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: When he is revealed we will be like him… All who have this hope in God purify themselves, just as he is pure.” It is this hope in God and this desire to be “holy as he is holy”(1 Peter 1.16) that gives us strength to live in a way that purifies our actions and our way of being.

The Beatitudes in today’s Gospel set forth a picture of what this looks like; they describe what happens to us as Jesus begins to live His life in us, through the Holy Spirit. These beatitudes are not something we do, but rather something we receive. It is not as if Jesus is saying, “Start being poor or meek and then God will bless you.” Rather He is saying that when the transformative power of the cross brings about in us a greater meekness, poverty of spirit, and so forth, we will experience that we are being blessed.*

So it is out of a desire to be “perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” (Matt. 5.48) that you can be transformed into a saint.

Thirdly, a saint is someone who has an eternal perspective and an eternal anticipation. We receive a beautiful and captivating image of heaven from the first reading, from the book of Revelation, and we hear of the saints: From every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cry out in a loud voice, “Salvation comes from our God who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!” They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshipped God, and exclaimed, “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Rev 7.9-12(Paraphrased)

If you look at this description of heaven you can see how liturgical it is. Our liturgy here, and when we celebrate the Mass, is a kind of ‘dress rehearsal’ for Heaven. The heart of heaven is being with God, looking upon His face, and having all our longings satisfied, while at the same time experiencing a sense of a communion of saints with God and with one another, of knowing and being known in a deep and rich way. There will be a profound understanding and appreciation, a rich love, and a sense of how we all complete one another and are one in Christ.* It is this deep communion and profound liturgy that we celebrate every Sunday. If we truly realized this and recognized this how often would we miss being at liturgy on Sunday?

As saints, it will be this anticipation for an eternity with God that will excite and draw us to Him.

So, as we celebrate the feast of All Saints let us, each one of us, remember our call to be saints by recognizing our identity as children of God, our need to have an eternal perspective as we anticipate the glory of God for all eternity, and by living with a desire for God that would lead us to ‘be’ peace, goodness, love, joy, gentleness, compassion, and mercy for eachother and for the world.

Scripture references taken from:

Revelation 7.2-4, 9-14

1 John 3.1-3

Matthew 5.1-12

* Quoted & paraphrased from: http://blog.adw.org/2015/10/ninety-nine-and-a-half-wont-do-a-homily-for-the-feast-of-all-saints/

* Quoted & paraphrased from: http://blog.adw.org/2015/10/ninety-nine-and-a-half-wont-do-a-homily-for-the-feast-of-all-saints/

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