Today’s Feast is transferred from the 1st November to this weekend. What we celebrate today and on Tuesday, the commemoration of all the faithful departed, is a feast for us all. Coming at the end of our Liturgical Year, they reflect on the past, the present, and the future. They consider the Church, the body of all believers, militant, suffering, and triumphant, and in doing so rehearse the mysteries of Easter. The first reading focuses us for today’s solemnity. In the Book of Revelation, St. John the Divine reports “a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” This is Good News. Salvation has come not only for Israel, but for the Gentiles as well. Here is the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, that by his seed all the nations of the world would bless themselves (see Genesis 22:18). The Church celebrates many famous Christians on their individual memorials, but today she praises God for all His “holy ones,” His saints. That is the title St. Paul preferred when he addressed his congregations in his letters.
Made holy by Baptism, they were already “saints” by the grace of God (see Colossians 1:2). They awaited, however, the day when they could “share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). And so do we, as the Scriptures give us reasons for celebration and hope.
In our second reading, St. John tells us that to be “saints” means to be “children of God”—and then he adds: “so we are”! Note that he speaks in the present tense, not what we hope we will be in the future. Yet John also says that we are a work in progress, not the finished article. We are already God’s children, but “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” Therefore, we work out our salvation: “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). We do this as we share the life of Christ, who defined earthly beatitude for us. We are “blessed,” He says, when we are poor, when we mourn, when we are persecuted for His sake. It is then we should “Rejoice and be glad, for [our] reward will be great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12). Until then, we pray with the Psalmist: “Such are the men who seek your face, O Lord.” Salvation has come through Abraham’s seed, but it belongs to all nations. For “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness, the world and all its peoples” (Psalm 24:1).