THE SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS, November 1, 2020
(Revelation 7: 2-4.9-14; I John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12)
Twelve years ago, an American writer published an essay about his relative, an Italian priest. The author was almost ecstatic that his grandfather's cousin was named as a saint of the Church. He said that knowing that his cousin was a saint has made him a better man. He credited Pope St. John Paul II with facilitating the canonization of many saints like his cousin. In fact, this pope canonized more people as saints than all of his predecessors combined.
Saint John Paul II believed that the people need saints as models for their lives. He recognized how the Second Vatican Council called all the faithful of the church to holiness. Therefore, he exhorted people not to think of the saints as "unusual heroes" of holiness. He said that there are many paths to holiness so that every person can achieve it.
On today’s feast we celebrate all the men and women who have passed through these roads at the same time accessible and not much taken. We take into account canonized saints like Saint Gaetano Catanoso, the Italian priest and cousin of the American author. We also remember Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, a French couple and parents of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus. Although they are canonized, we may not find their names on our parish calendars.
We also celebrate today many saints that Rome not even knows. They are the people who have walked their paths to holiness in relative obscurity. Possibly all of us have known at least one person who if he was not helping others, was praying for them. He may be the man who stopped by the parish every day to do the maintenance without asking for anything in return. He was such a trustworthy person that everyone from the pastor to the newest parishioners saw him as a friend. Or it may be the judge who comes to the noon mass from his courtroom in which he is known as a wise and just arbiter.
The Beatitudes trace eight paths to holiness. They all have the undertone of humility. The saint does not insist on having his way but always submits to the will of God. The poor in spirit do not seek wealth or fame but look to God as their reward. Those who hunger and thirst for justice do not plot to obtain their well-being but rather strive to do what God expects of them. The pure in heart have no other motive other than the desire to do God's will. To be holy is to leave the race to be admired by others in order to give glory to God through acts of love.
We like to see children in costumes on Halloween, the vigil of All Saints' Day. Some wear the clothes of a queen. Others dress like cowboys or Goldilocks. The lazy appear may come as hobos. That’s all right too. All these characters and many others besides are welcomed among the saints as long as they submit to the will of God. Saints are those who have submitted to God’s will.