Solemnity of All Saints Day
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 1 John 3:1-3 Matthew 5:1-12a
No one really likes to think about the last of anything, particularly the last days of our lives. Yet there is a side to our nature that is drawn to thoughts of the end of life at this time of the year. We’re beginning the last month of the church year and the second to the last month of the calendar year. Night falls earlier and earlier each day. Leaves fall from the trees, leaving branches that look dead. Skies are gray. It is November.
The Church uses these waning days and darker skies as the season to remind us of the last things. Today’s feast, the Solemnity of All Saints, is the centerpiece of three days that point to doctrines we proclaim each time we say the Nicene Creed: “We believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting!” And while the days and our hearts may be dark, the readings today are bright with the light of faith. John’s vision in the book of Revelation reveals dazzling angels and white robed saints gathered in triumph around the throne of God. In the responsorial psalm we sing our longing to see God’s face, and in the second reading John writes that we are God’s children and will, in fact, see God “as he is” (1 John 3:2). This is our hope. This is God’s promise.
Then, in the Gospel, we read Jesus’ formula for saint-making. “You will be blessed,” we are told: blessed if we are poor in spirit, sorrowing, lowly, hungry for holiness, merciful, single-hearted, peacemakers, and persecuted. Matthew’s words in this Gospel point us directly back to the first reading. “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). Today we celebrate the triumph of those who already gaze on the face of God. Tomorrow we cry out for mercy with those in purgatory, who, like us on earth, still long to see God’s face.