Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - November 1, 2020
“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.”
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints – a day to think prayerfully of those who preceded us and who, during their lives, tried to live faithfully and fully in God’s presence. This is a day for remembering and celebrating the vast array of all saints, canonized and un-canonized, of every time and place. It is a day to remember and celebrate the lives and sacrifice of all the faithful who have gone before us, all the company of the faithful, that “great cloud of witnesses” who dared to hear and respond to God’s Word calling them to follow the way and the example of His Son. Today is a day to pray that we may imitate their exemplary Christian lives and to pray that they will intercede for us from their heavenly home to which we are still journeying.
The prayers and scriptures of the day provide a most helpful guide for our celebration. The Book of Revelation reminds us of what the Solemnity of All Saints is about. It portrays the relationship and communion between the church triumphant in heaven and the church militant on earth. Those who have won the victory in their witness to Christ remain concerned for those of us who still fight the battle in our lives of faith and witness. Their following of Christ in faithful discipleship is not only an invitation to join them in the communion of saints but also an encouragement to continue paying attention to the words of Jesus himself.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Beatitudes are the first part of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, and they present guidelines for disciples, encapsulating the values that Jesus came to proclaim both in his life and in his preaching on the kingdom of God. On this Solemnity of All Saints, we recognize once again that the way of life embedded in the Beatitudes is the essence of sainthood. We respond to the universal call to holiness with the Holy Spirit’s help by taking on the mind and heart of Jesus as expressed in the Beatitudes’ values.
The First Letter of John reminds us that we are God’s children right now – called to live in accord with the beatitudes from Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount. Recognizing this, we want to live as the holy ones who are God’s children, separate and different from the world, but still in the world. We remember that what distinguishes us as children of God is our love for one another, and what enables us to love one another is God’s love for us in sending us his Son to take away our sinfulness and make us children of God.
The prayers of The Liturgy of the Hours are helpful and remind us that God is the reward of all the saints. As the source of all that is holy, God has let His holiness shine in many marvelous ways through the lives of His saints. Today we pray that God will help us to celebrate His greatness in them and that, as the lives of the saints gave testimony to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, so through their example, we may draw closer to him.
Today, as we worship God whose praises are sung in the assembly of the saints, we are also looking toward our celebration of All Soul’s Day tomorrow. Joining all our prayers with those of the saint’s in heaven, we pray that God will complete whatever was unfulfilled in the lives of those who have died. May all the faithful departed know eternal rest and peace in God’s presence.