They Came, they Struggled, and they Conquered
Readings: 1st: Rev 7, 2-4. 9-14; Ps: 23; 2nd: 1 Jn 3, 1-3; Gos: Mt 5, 1-12
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“They have no speech; they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens, God has pitched a tent for the sun. (Ps. 19, 4-5)”.
Today, the church gives us the opportunity to celebrate our unsung heroes. The Feast of All Saints is a celebration in recognition of the efforts made by many “Faithful” who are not officially canonized or beatified by the church.
Contrary to the belief of one known Christian sect, that: “Only one hundred and forty-four thousand people will be saved or enter God’s kingdom,” our first reading today gives us hope that there are enough rooms in God’s kingdom for anyone that triumphs. So, All Saints refers to: “The crowd so great that no one could count. They were individuals of all nations and races, of all peoples and languages.”
This reading portrays two essential things. The first is that apart from the officially canonized saints, many more have lived heroic and virtuous lives. They are unsung by men, but God, the Creator, and Father recognize their efforts and struggle. They are: “Those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb,” and now, sing: “Victory, salvation, honor, and glory belong to our God because he is Love!” Second, it also shows that God’s love is for all nations.
Hence, today’s second reading reminds us of how much God loves us. All Saints (the triumphant church) now enjoy the fullness of this love. We (“the militant church”), who are still living also, enjoy God’s love. It is this same love that sustains us in our journey daily journey. However, when we triumph like them, we shall become transformed and share in the fullness of this love. Hence, John tells us: “Brothers, now we are the children of God, but it has not been manifested what we shall look like at the end.” We shall look like the glorified Christ and the saints. We shall share in the fullness of God’s love.
Today, our gospel gives us a perfect credential of all the Saints that we honor today. They are the real Blessed and Happy. Each one of them falls into one or more of these categories. They were poor in spirit. They suffered and wept for the salvation of others. They hungered and thirsted for justices and the truth. In the process, they were greatly persecuted and bruised. Despite all these, they were pure in their hearts, merciful to all, and worked for peace.
While this matches the profile and the present reward of All Saints, it also leaves us with great hope and promise. All saints were mortal human beings like each one of us. They came, saw, struggled, and they conquered. The same grace that helped them is still available for us today. The good news is that we shall also enjoy this exact profile and reward if we run and endure the way they did.
The lessons from today’s celebration are great. Many times, I have heard some people say things like: “Look, I have been working and doing my best, yet no one recognizes me. Nobody knows that I exist here. No one cares about my efforts. I do not count or mean anything to anybody” If we understand who God is, we will not think or speak this way.
The truth is that human beings may not appreciate your efforts and worth, but God does. This is because he knows that you are there. You count, you mean a lot to him, and you are on His “payment list.” He loves you and is praying and waiting patiently for you to overcome this world to share in the fullness of his love. So, like All Saints, you are among the class of people that the Lord is searching for. All Saints, Pray for us!
Peace be with you!