FIRST READING (I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.)
A reading from the Book of Revelation (7:2-4, 9-14)
I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel.
After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”— The Word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM (24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6)
Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face. (Cf. Ps 24:6)
The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it. For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (R)
Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? or who may stand in his holy place? One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain. (R)
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior. Such is the race that seeks him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob. (R)
SECOND READING (We shall see God as he is.)
A reading from the first Letter of Saint John (3:1-3)
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.—The Word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (Mt 11:28)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord. (R)
GOSPEL (Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (5:1-12a)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” —The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you Lord, Jesus Christ.
“Blessed are you!”
Today the Universal Church celebrates that vast group of men and women whom we acknowledge and call “saints.” As we heard in our first reading from the Book of Revelation, they are a “great multitude… from every nation, race, people and tongue.” Some of them were wealthy, many were poor. Some were highly educated; some had little or no education. Some of them held positions of power and esteem; others were hardly noticed or noticeable.
This vast company of saints come from every ethnic and cultural background, and represent people of nearly every known language, and come from many different continents and nationalities. But with all of these differences, they have certain things in common.
In our Gospel today we have the famous Sermon on the Mount with the “Beatitudes,” instructions often called the roadmap to holiness. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the meek; those who mourn; the merciful; the peacemakers; those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ’s name…” The saints traveled along one of these paths – or some of them – or even all of them. Have you ever met a saint?
I have had the privilege of not only meeting Saint Teresa of Calcutta, but of serving and working with St. John Paul II, as many of you know. I have also known and been touched by other saintly men and women throughout my life: teachers, catechists, parish volunteers, Bishop James E. Walsh of Maryknoll who ordained me and who spent 12 years in a prison in China in solitary confinements solely because he was a Catholic. I met many others from Cardinals to simple priests and Religious who gave their lives as missionaries in many far distant corners of the world. Just two weeks ago, the Church witnessed the beatification of Blessed Carlo Acutis, and English-born Italian who died in 2006 at the age of 15 after suffering from leukemia. Blessed Carlos was noted as being a computer “geek” who used his gifts to evangelize through the medium of IT. While suffering and in great pain from his cancer, he said, “there are people who suffer much more than me.”
His comments, and the many recollections I have from saints or saintly people I have known teach us much about what the saints thought of themselves. They all saw themselves as quite ordinary, never considering themselves as spiritual heroes or heroines. But they all shared one thing – they saw themselves as sons and daughters of a loving Father and disciples of Jesus and living in the Spirit. They saw themselves as St. John writes in our 2nd reading, “as children of God.” Look closely at how St. john writes – not that you will be children of God but that you ARE in the present, in the here and now, called to be children of God.
Do you understand this? Do you feel it? You – Me – each of us is a child of God! Yes, perhaps our lives may be shaped by outside forces that we are often unaware of – but through Baptism we have been given GRACE, and we have been given the true DIGNITY of being children of God!
Another facet about the saints is that they often saw themselves as belonging to a life far greater than their individual lives. They knew that they belonged to Jesus Christ. They were loyal to him – and some of them suffered persecution, but as Christ himself promises them, they are “Blessed… for their reward will be great in heaven.” They gave everything they did or had – even their very life – to Christ, ready to live and die for Him. This gave their lives redemptive value.
And each of these saints knew that they a destiny beyond the limits of this world. Again as St. john tell us, “What we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed, we shall be like Him.” The saints knew and believed – even in moments of doubt and worry 0 that there would be a magnificent future ahead that the world could not give them, a future that is safe and assured by Christ.
Being a child of God, being part of Christ’s mission, and having an eternal future with Christ are truths that linked all the saints together. Living these truths will unite us with them. All Saints Day teaches us that holiness, heroic loyal holiness, is possible for anyone with the grace of God. Our celebration today reminds us of these countless holy men and women whose collective stories can inspire us on our own journey of faith.
Because of the grace of our baptism, we are sons and daughters of God just as they were. Are we willing then, like them, to live out that life-saving truth and follow the steps of holiness by living the Beatitudes? If we are, and if we do this, then we too will be a saint!
Celebrant: As God’s people on earth, let us unite our prayers with all the saints in heaven for the needs of men and women everywhere.
READER: That the Church, the joyful mother of a great company of saints, may bring her children to the Kingdom of God, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: That all people of goodwill may receive true life and abiding peace through the redeeming Blood of Christ, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: That those who suffer persecution in the cause of right may continue steadfastly in the way of the saints who walked before them, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: That in offering and receiving the Eucharist, we may respond to God’s universal call to holiness, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
READER: That all who have gone before us in faith may be brought speedily to behold God forever with the saints, especially are family and friends who have died recently, (Pause) LET US PRAY TO THE LORD
CELEBRANT: Father of holiness and grace, we offer our petitions with the prayers of blessed Mary and all the Saints, confident in your mercy revealed in their heroic lives. We ask this, through Christ our Lord. (all) AMEN.