Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Good News of All Saints'

I heard the voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying: Alleluia, salvation and glory and power belong to our God, alleluia.
Antiphon for the Eve of All Hallows’

The Feast of All the Saints is a deeply communal celebration. It is a constant reminder that our fulfillment is in restored communion with our brother and sister, our neighbor, those far away, our enemies, the stranger, the person who has walked at totally different journey from us, the familiar friend, those separated from us by death, and most significantly, with God the Holy Trinity. There is no private existence, no private salvation. We are utterly dead without communion. A desire for this communion is perhaps the chief characteristic of the holy people of God.

The multitude spoken of in the above antiphon taken from the Book of Revelation is beyond numbering. It is a brief encounter with the mystery of the vastness of God’s mercy and embrace. In our world, we have grown accustomed to conforming everything—even God and God’s own Kingdom—to the narrowness of human measurements. But the Scriptures will not allow us to do this. In place of our own ideological and economic meanness, the Scriptures show us that God’s love is limited not by divine penury, but by human hardness. God desires our complete union and communion and has given all for this purpose…but what do we, his baptized children, desire?

All Saints’ Eve is celebrated by many today in ways that have no regard to the power, the glory, and beauty of this Feast of Faith. We can no longer pretend the culture around us is interested in such arcane and mysterious traditions. Rather, we that are part of Christ’s Body the Church must now embrace the earliest level of All Saints’ significance: All people are called, are begged by a God who has given everything in Christ, to claim their fullest potential selves: holiness, sainthood. This message must be our deepest joy, our earnest desire to live and to share.

If we desire this sanctity as Christians, our lives will become the holy icons, the beautiful colored glass windows through which the light of God—the only giver of holiness—will shine. In so doing, the Church will fulfill its mission in us, and we will join with all the saints before us in their chorus of greatest joy: "Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, alleluia"...and our God has shared holiness with us by making us his saints!"

O God, whose wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day, you once delivered by the power of your mighty arm you chosen people from slavery under Pharaoh, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of Baptism: grant that all the peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham, and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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