This day is for all the saints in heaven, those who glory in God’s presence. This day is about the Church Triumphant, the hope and goal of all Christians, the desire that all people will come to experience, the joys and glories of God. All the people of history who have been washed clean by the blood of Christ, those who are called children of God.
The saints that are celebrated all throughout the year, are given special days to not simply acknowledge their outstanding lives, but to also serve as a model for us. Something about the way they lived, or the adversity they endured, and the great acts they accomplished, all serve to inspire us to live better our Christian lives. Indeed, many Saints said that they were inspired by the saints that came before them.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola changed his life after reading a book on the Lives of the Saints. Mother Teresa took her name from Therese of Lisieux, the patroness of missionaries. Therese herself said she was inspired by St. Joan of Arc and St. John of the Cross. Which saint have you found yourself drawn to, or felt inspired by? Have you ever bothered to look some of them up?
But there is much more than just these famous saints. When we think of the word “saint” we always think of the famous ones. St. Francis, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope St. John Paul II. But this is the solemnity of All Saints, the ones who were not famous on earth, but still lived their Christians lives, still had faith, hope and love, still struggled, still experienced God’s great loving mercy, and now joyfully dwell in God’s presence.
Future saints are living among us right now, in the very building at this very moment, I’m looking at them, at least I hope. And these ordinary everyday people, whether deceased or still living, can be just as inspiring as those with special days on the calendar.
Consider those who served as a model for you, the ones you knew personally. And I don’t mean someone who gave good advice, someone who you thought lived the gospel well, who followed the beatitudes listed by Jesus in our gospel. Someone who knew and acknowledge their need for God. Someone who showed hope while mourning, and gave comfort to others in sorrow. Someone whose meekness kept them from blowing up in anger, and could be gentle and patient with others.
Someone who worked to show love and charity toward others. Someone who showed mercy and forgiveness when they were wronged. Someone who put God first and made him an integral part of their life. Someone who sought to make peace and reconcile with others. Someone who was ridiculed for their faith, suffered for doing the right thing, but persevered nonetheless.
Have you known anyone with such qualities? Maybe a parent, a sibling, a friend, a co-worker. Perhaps someone you didn’t know, but observed? Now, what about you? Do you have any of these qualities? Might you be able to serve as a model for Christian living? Perhaps not as dramatic or well-known as saints with special days, but maybe. And if you say, “Father, I’m no saint.” Well, the saints in heaven said the same thing while on earth. No one was born a saint, and all of them struggled in their own way. But that’s what makes them inspiring, because they persevered, the held on to faith and hope and love, and thus they received their eternal reward.
And remember, the saints do more than just inspire you, they are ready to actively help you with their prayers and intercessions. If you feel connected to a certain saint, then ask for their prayers. Do you ask others to pray for you? Good. Do you ask others who you find to be holy, close to God, to pray for you? Even better.
Do you ask those who at this very moment see God face to face, and are not distracted by personal earthly matters? The best! The saints of heaven want nothing more than for you to join them in the heavenly banquet of God.
And if we have this hope, to join the saints in heaven, to see God as he is, then as St. Paul says, then let us make ourselves pure. Not only following the model of those before us, but being a model for others.