Families like to brag about their famous relatives. Even if it is a distant relative. If somewhere in our family history there is a legendary leader, a well-known person in the history of our country of origin, the discoverer of some scientific or medical breakthrough, a hero in saving lives, a sports icon, a millionaire, rock star, movie star…if we are somehow related, we like other people to know.
The feast of All the Saints is about our Catholic family bragging about our relatives. The saints are those who have gone before us that we believe are in heaven. They are esteemed by our faith family because in their lives on earth they demonstrated things like compassion for the poor, care for the sick, zeal for social justice, vigilance in handing on the authentic teachings of the Church, courage in dying for their faith, keen attentiveness to their spiritual life and more.
On All Saints Day, our celebration of the saints is not a mere exercise in honoring them. We also observe this day for ourselves as a reminder that all of us are called to full life with God in heaven. With our feet firmly planted on earth, we are reminded that as we build the Kingdom of God through our lives here, we look heavenward as well. We are saints in the making.
The earthly journey is difficult. It was for the saints, too. They struggled to live as Jesus taught. They took seriously Jesus’ call to seek God first, to be merciful, to be peacemakers, to put up with persecution for his sake, to be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:1-12). It was no easier for them than it is for us to live such a life in a world that so often is the opposite.
On All Saints Day we are a proud family thanking God for the officially canonized saints of the Church as well as the saints that we have personally known and hugged. Relying on the help of their prayers and the support of each other, who knows, maybe someday the family will be bragging about us too.
Together in faith,
Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector