14b Musa Yar'Adua Street (Off Kofo Abayomi Street), V.I Lagos

All Saints Day

November 1, 2020

SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

Blessed are the merciful

My dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate the annual feast in honour of the countless faithful servants, good men and women of every nation and race who have lived their lives according to the will of God and now counted worthy to live with God forever. Many unknown and unlisted in the calendar of Saints yet they are friends of God who proclaimed the Gospel message by their lives, often challenging the norm and by that making the world a better place for all to live. Many of them have laid down their lives suffering martyrdom silently for the sake of the Gospel. The readings of today’s liturgy, points to our goal— to see God and to live with God for all eternity. We pray that we may live in communion with them and share their crown.

First Reading (Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14)

In the face of crisis and impending violence against Christians, John received a vision and wrote very encouraging words to spur his listeners to hold on firmly to their faith. He saw, in the first place, the many saved from the tribes of Israel, “Then I heard the number of the sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.” After this, John also saw,

“A great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” A great testament to the universal call to holiness. The white robes signify their purity and the glory that has been bestowed upon them. The palm branches in their hands- something associated with he feast of booths in the Old Testament or resurrection, the symbol of their victory over the evil forces that had tested their loyalty to Christ. Their song is that of victory that is attributed to God. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Second Reading (1 John 3:1-3)

John tells us in the passage, of the extent to which God has shown his kindness to us. Right from the beginning of this chapter he calls, “Brethren, see what love the Father has given us…” This is a very powerful way of inviting us to think, to appreciate and to cherish this gift. The love that God has given us is, “that we should be called children of God, and so we are.” For John, there is a special bond, brought about by our re-birth in Christ. We are not just called children of God, he says— so indeed we are. We have become God’s children by the fact of our baptism and followership of Jesus but there is still something more in stock for us, John says, “When he appears, we shall be like him, and we shall see him as he is.” The glory that we have been offered in Christ by the fact of our baptism is beyond what we can fully understand or describe. We shall see God and be like God. We have shed the sinfulness of the flesh and taken up, the glory of the resurrected Christ and so we can sing with the saints as in the first reading of today. 

Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12)

In this Gospel passage, Jesus shows us how to make it to heaven—the secret of happiness, “Blessed are the merciful.” The Holy Father Pope Francis called us to an extra-ordinary Jubilee of Mercy in  2015 with the theme “Merciful Like the Father” and he challenged us, “In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”(MV 12) Jesus also considered peacemakers as those who will be considered sons of God. Those who try to reconcile conflict and hate obviously deserve that blessedness because they want all to see themselves as brothers and sisters and therefore end all forms of hostilities. There are also many who are persecuted for righteousness sake. Those who face challenges just because they try their best to live by their faith. Those who have refused to join the bandwagon of corruption and hate. They are often hated by those who feel that their lives have become a reproach to the way of life, they have chosen to live.

It’s often easier to remember all the great saints whose names appear on the calendar of the Church and in whose names a number of institutions had been established; yet there are countless good men and women all over the world who have lived exemplary and Christlike lives, and who pass away unsung. In the parents who live just for their children and do everything to raise them in the way of God and to be good citizens. In the teachers who form and mould the young in our society. The police, fire fighters, men and women in military uniform who sincerely for the love of all, lay down their lives to stop the violence in our world and to bring peace even to foreign lands. In the activists for justice, peace and the environment, who strive to make the world a better place for all. In the ordinary farmer and farm worker doing their jobs for the love of God and others and not just for the gain. In the Social workers in shelters for refuges, the homeless and orphanages. In the market people who are sincere in their trade and will not cheat anyone on their way to the top. Think of the grand parents who have done their best to raise their children and then their grand children. The list is endless. The good deeds of these men and women go unrecorded and sometimes unnoticed, but their holiness of life has made the world a better place, their exemplary lives, faith and service had also inspired others to take on the same or similar causes.

The call to holiness is universal. Let us not restrict holiness to just a few or look at heaven like a far and distant destination that is difficult to attain. The very little things we do everyday constitute the path through which we can make our way there. 

Let us pray: May the Lord in his mercy give us the courage to strive to make it to the eternal kingdom. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.