For many, the feast of all the Saints is associated with a sad remembrance of ancient people, who through their lives and contributions to the Church have earned the highest honour. This, however, is only partially true. The feast of all the Saints is a joyful celebration of the life and work of countless men and women, who have devoted their lives and deeds to the glory of God and evangelisation. This feast day is also a reminder to all of us, that although our lives may be ordinary, as Christians we are called to be extraordinary. That is to not only hear the Gospel but to live it and share it with others and by doing so, striving to be the next Saints of God.
The Gospel on the feast day of all the Saints, is the beautiful passage of the Beatitudes. A very fitting remembrance of what we are called to be as Christian men and women. Through the Beatitudes Jesus invites us on a journey. The Beatitudes are not simply, short, tick the box tasks but rather a lifelong commitment which will culminate with our reward in heaven. On the feast day of all the Saints, we are reminded of what that reward could be, if only we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the thousand Saints, who emptied themselves and opened their hearts, minds, and souls to the pure and unconditional love of God. Pope Francis speaks of great joy and privilege when reading and meditating the Beatitudes. He also echoes his predecessor as he says that the Beatitudes are a program or a way of life: “He [Jesus] shows us the way to live, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes”. So, if we want to call ourselves the disciples of Jesus then we too should strive to embody the Beatitudes in our lives. The Saints whose memory we venerate on their feast day have followed Jesus in his footsteps, embraced the Gospel, lived it, and shared it'.
We too are called; we are called to make an impact on the world we live in. Each one of us is reminded through the Beatitudes that if we mourn, if we are poor in spirit, if we embrace the Gospel, we too can impact this world. We must choose; we must want to live our lives according to the Beatitudes. Of course, we must also decide in what way we want to impact this world through our lives. GK Chesterton, a Catholic writer and novelist once said “The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side”. So if we chose the Beatitudes, we chose to live out our lives according to that God’s program. The Beatitudes show us how to live our lives, how to be holy, and how to embrace God no matter what situation we find ourselves. If we embrace the Beatitudes in our lives, in all that we are and all that we do we will become God’s walking sermon. There is a well-known story of Albert Schweitzer, a German Nobel Peace Prize winner, who in 1949 was described as “one of the most extraordinary men of modern times”. At the time when he was to accept his Nobel Prize, he arrived at a Chicago train station to a large crowd of officials, reporters, and dignitaries. Schweitzer greeted them and asked to be excused for a moment. He walked through the large crowd until he reached the side of an elderly woman who was struggling with two large suitcases. Schweitzer picked up the bags and escorted the woman to a bus. After helping her aboard, he wished her a safe journey. As he returned to the greeting party, he said ‘sorry to have kept you waiting’. This act of kindness was noted by one of the committee members who said, “That’s the first time I ever saw a sermon walking”. In the Beatitudes that is exactly what we are called to be - a walking sermon, a walking homily, walking Gospel. Because we live in a society, in which many have turned from the Gospel and for them the only Gospel they will ever read is the story of our lives. The Beatitudes call us to clearly illustrate the love of Christ and the servant’s attitude by our lives.
The Beatitudes are an invitation to transform our lives, they are an invitation to bring the kingdom of God into our midst. Not only on the feast day of all the Saints but every day they are an invitation to Sainthood. There are over ten thousand Saints in the Catholic church and although this might not seem like a lot, each, and every one of us has the tools and ability to be the next Saint. Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, we are created with a purpose and God believes that each one of us is capable of adding to the number of Saints in the Church. Just like the Saints we celebrate on the 1st of November both those recognised and unrecognised, we have been called to an ordinary life but with extraordinary faith, hope, and love by complete trust in the mercy of God we too are capable of being the next Saints. The choice is ours; do we chose light and empty ourselves of our needs and wants and instead open ourselves to the love of God or do we choose the darkness and become mere observers of God’s love and transformation. The choice is ours.
I want to conclude with a prayer for the day of all the Saints so that we may learn to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, love, and service:
'Dear Lord, thank you for the example of the Saints. I desire to join in their company, worshipping you forever in Heaven. Please help me follow their footsteps, and in the footsteps of your Son Jesus Christ. Please help me to conform myself to Your image, seeking Your will in all things, as the Saints did. Please help me to devote myself, and all that I do, to Your glory, and to the service of my neighbours. Amen.