All Saints in Ordinary Time - Year B - 1st November, 2015

"When the Saints Go Marching In"

It is unfortunate that Halloween gets far better press and response than the feast for which it prepares, All Saints! This feast is one of the oldest feasts in the life of the Church. It was natural that the early Christians wanted to honour those men and women who had died for their faith. The martyrs commanded special esteem because they so totally — even to the point of death — likened themselves to Christ. When the age of martyrdom ceased others were soon singled out as being special examples of those who had conformed their life to Christ. By the ninth century, the Feast of All Saints and Martyrs was celebrated on November 1st.

The first reading for today’s Mass invites us to honour those “saints” (from the Latin word sanctus meaning "holy") who have died and won their eternal reward. In doing so we give thanks to God for the inspiration which their witness continues to give us. Though not known to us by name, these are the women and men who showed perseverance and trust in their pilgrim journey of faith. Far from fleeing in the face of challenge, they faced difficulty with confidence and hope and now rejoice in God's presence for ever.

In the second reading St. John reminds us that we ought not consider "saints" only those who are in heaven, but that we too are called to be saints. Not only are we called but we are already God's saints because we are children of God through baptism. Heaven will reveal how we "shall be like him," but we are already conformed to Christ in his dying and rising.

We sometimes think that life was easy for the saints as they were in tune with God. No, for them it was a struggle and they too had to live in the mess and mire that is human life, trying to be faithful to their calling. These men and women, our ancestors, found it hard to live the Beatitudes in a world so totally opposed to Christian values – life was no different then, than it is today.

We too must set aside the enticing ways of the world so that Gospel values may come alive in us. By so doing we bring about a new kingdom of justice, truth and peace.

In a very real way, then, this Feast is also a celebration of how God has already graced us with divine life and we are strengthened in the knowledge that God is with us, guiding us, preparing us for a destiny that is beyond our wildest dreams. Do we really want “to be among that number when the saints go marching in?” Then let us live in union with our God and proclaim it with our lives.

Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.