The Solemnity of All Saints
1 November 2018 at Saint Peter the Apostle and St. Willian Churches in Naples, FL
Revelations 7, 2-4, 9-14 + Psalm 24 + 1 John 3, 1-3 + Matthew 5, 1-12
We should gather here today with the memory of saints we have known in our lives. This day is not about Francis or Clare of Assisi, the Apostles, or the Martyrs whose faith and courage made them heroic in suffering. This day is about people we have known in our lifetime, people who challenge us, or maybe even shame us into living a good, holy, faith filled life. These are people who imitated Christ, and they remind us of what life is about. They have in the past and still their memory inspires us. Beyond the grave they still guide us. They are teachers, friends, family members, public servants, or maybe neighbors. We remember them today because of what they have called us to become with the sure hope that they like the people we sang of in the Psalm today now see God face to face.
We gather here to celebrate our confident hope that ordinary people are standing by the side of Francis and Clare, the Apostles Peter and Andrew, Agnes, Ann, Mary and Joseph. This day of All Saints invites us to ponder our ultimate purpose and what we hope to accomplish in life and why. This holy day is about holy people, and we ought to live with the hope that someday someone will remember us on this day. The people I am calling to mind were not particularly pious, but they were very good. Piety is not a substitute for goodness. Perhaps there can be goodness without holiness, but I’m quite sure that there is no holiness without goodness. All of us have that capacity for goodness.
In the end, love is what it’s all about. A loving person is always holy person. To be a saint is to be a witness to love. There is no higher vocation than this. St John of the Cross gave us this great thought: “In the evening of our lives we will be examined on love.” It hardly matters whether we have been successful in school or some career. It certainly does not matter how much money we have made or how many prayers we’ve said or novenas we have made. In the end it will probably not matter how many times we have been to Mass or failed to go. We are going to be examined on love. All the prayers, the Masses, the generosity of our lives and what we choose to do with what we have will simply be a manifestation of that love, because we always gather here because of love.
It is the lovers that we remember today: the people whose love for God and who were loved by God and managed to love us even when there was every reason not to. These are the Saints we honor today. Remember them now, and in your mind speak their names.