1st November 2020
Year A – Psalter week 3
All Saints’ Day was originally a commemoration of early martyrs whose names were unrecorded and so could not be included by name on the day of their martyrdom. These are people who, while not officially canonized by the Church, may well have been if more had been known about them.
In the New Testament all baptized Christians are referred to as “saints” or “holy ones”. St. Paul, for example, even when castigating the Corinthians for various moral offences, nevertheless still addresses them as those “called as saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2). In the mind of St. Paul, then, sanctity was not so much earned by moral achievement, but rested ultimately upon receiving the Holy Spirit and being made holy by a pure gift of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11).
With this New Testament understanding, today’s feast could be interpreted as a commemoration of all the faithful departed. The Church, however, has traditionally separated that wider commemoration from All Saints’ Day, and observed it on the following day, on All Souls Day, when we pray that God will have mercy upon all the faithful departed. Today, then, is more a commemoration of all those in whom the grace of God has had its greatest triumph, of those who lived saintly lives and whom the Church finds it natural to thank God for the victory they have achieved by His grace.
The Church desires too that we emulate such saints. Taking up that understanding of St. Paul’s, we are each called ‘as’ a saint. Through Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion we have already received the Person of the Holy Spirit. Each of us has already been incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Indeed, we have already become children of God which is why we can call God, “Our Father.” Or as St. John says in the second reading: “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.”
In this sense, then, we have each been made a saint already. St. Augustine of Hippo said that we must now “become what we are.” Having received this free gift from God, we are now called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, so that this holiness can bear fruit in our lives, as it did in the lives of all those saints we commemorate today.
How, then, can we cooperate? Well, as St. John goes on to say, everyone must “purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.” This involves not following false gods such as the pursuit of money, pleasure or power, for example, but rather placing God first in our lives and hearts and loving our neighbour as ourselves, as Jesus commanded in last week’s gospel. It means obeying the commandments of God and doing our utmost to follow Christ’s teaching in our lives. As in today’s gospel, we are called to live the beatitudes as Jesus did. We are to be a people who are poor in spirit and who know our complete dependence upon God for everything. We are to be gentle and merciful to others. We are to be a people who mourn our own sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world, and who therefore hunger after justice and peace. Ultimately, we are called to be a people who are willing to lay down our lives in order to take up our daily cross to follow Christ, even if that means suffering persecution of some kind.
In our own strength such a life is impossible. Rather, we must rely completely upon the grace of God and upon the prayers of the saints in heaven.
1 John 3:1-3
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
Alleluia, alleluia! Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest, says the Lord. Alleluia!