Solemnity of All Saints
(Revelation 7:2-4.9-14; I John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a)
Funerals of African-Americans in New Orleans lift participants to the hope promised in today’s readings. Arriving at the cemetery, mourners step out of their cars and their sorrow. They follow the casket in a dance of life. It is not a moment of sadness but an occasion of God’s victory over death. It is the time when the saints go marching in.
Today the Church joins the great procession of saints who have never been canonized to the ten thousand holy women and men officially recognized. In doing so, she confirms our sense that people whom we have known share the glory of heaven. These saints may include our gracious grandmother who always had a few pennies for us to buy a treat on the way to school. They also may number our favorite teacher who not only taught us his or her particular expertise but also the virtues of adulthood.
We must be careful not to indiscriminately say that all the dead are now saints. Evil is a factor in the world with some buying plainly into it. But no one lies beyond the reach of God’s mercy. For those who led compromised lives we will pray tomorrow. For now we want to ask all the saints, especially those to whom we have been close, to pray for us. We too hope to surmount the evil which tempts us so that we may be counted in their number.