All Saints – 11 November 2012

It would be helpful if we take the Opening Words of our ENTRANCE ANTIPHON together with a few phrases from the PREFACE. The Scripture Readings should, then, take on a valuable thrust and challenge.

The Antiphon starts with the words: LET US ALL REJOICE IN THE LORD. Then, the Preface: WE EAGERLY HASTEN HAS PILGRIMS ADVANCING IN FAITH.

Are we really able to rejoice in the Lord if we are not advancing in faith? This is a vital question and challenge.

Faith is a journey – one which should never be undertaken lightly or carelessly, (never to be confused with hastening eagerly) and in a real way it needs to be planned with the aid of a good map. We should be able to anticipate the potholes in the road which should be the straightest route. At the same time we have to retain our enthusiasm which will sometimes wane and need additional motivation. Return to the words from today’s Preface: we have to advance in faith with genuine eagerness. All of this is involved in the honest journey of the pilgrim.

This is why we may all be described as people who seek the Lord’s face, and are striving to climb the mountain of the Lord. {SEE TODAY’S PSALM [24 or 23]}

An important element of the motivation referred to earlier is the fact that we are already SAINTS! A cursory paging through the Letters of Paul will discover his frequent use of the word saints in many of the messages to the new Churches – either at the start or the conclusion when he sends greetings to all the saints. This celebration of All Saints is our recognition and acknowledgement of ALL those people who have completed the journey, climbed the mountain of the Lord, and now see him face to face.

ALL THOSE PEOPLE! Take a good look at two phrases from TODAY’S FIRST SCRIPTURE [REVELATION 7: 2 – 4. 9 – 14]. The extract refers to (i) “a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues,” and (ii) “these are ones who have come out of the great tribulation.” We are not focussed, today, on those FEW who have made the headlines (each of these has their own special day), but on the “great multitude”ordinary folk like all of us. IF THEY HAVE MADE IT, SO CAN WE. Again, hear other words from the Preface: “through whom you give us, in our frailty, both strength and good example.” Note well that the word ‘give’ is in the present tense, not the past. It may well be that deceased family members, spouses, parents, friends and teachers gave us strength and good example. An important element of this particular celebration is to remind us that these same people continue to GIVE us the same encouragement and good example. They are not dead. They are alive, well and active. They are a real part of our present roots which continue to pass on motivation and encouragement – especially when our enthusiasm wanes. They are sign posts on the road we take with eagerness.

Much of this is summarised for us in the SECOND SCRIPTURE [1 JOHN 3: 1 – 3]. John tells us, (i) “we are God’s childrennow,” and (ii) “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”We make our pilgrimage in the existing condition of being GOD’S CHILDREN. Do not wait for the future in order to recognise, accept and appreciate this fact. Then, we need to see that there does exist (when we reach the mountain) something which is even greater than being his children. Be wary of tasteless pictures (which lack all artistic recommendation) and graphic word descriptions (without any theological or scriptural merit) which fruitlessly attempt to portray ‘heaven’. “It does not yet appear what we shall be.”The only thing we know is that “we shall be like him, for we shall see him face to face.”There is a wonderful motivation, which should be part of the map for our journey, provided somewhere or other in the Book of Psalms: “seek his face always.”Seek! Climb!

Our extract from Revelation refers to those “who have come out of the great tribulation.”This tribulation must be seen as our journey, pilgrimage, through life – especially when our enthusiasm wanes and we find ourselves lost and dispirited. How do we come out of these times? Well, we need to take a good look at our map. The map is provided by THISSUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 5: 1 – 12a].There is no doubt that the Ten Commandments provide us with an elementary compass. However, the map comes with the EIGHT BEATITUDES.The ‘letter of the law’ is insufficient. We need its SPIRIT. A petrol tank in a car is essential.

However, we need to fill it with right ‘spirit’.