01 November 2014

THE FEAST OF THE LIVING AND LOVING

Solemnity of All Saints
Mt 5:1-12 (Rev 7:2-4.9-14 / Ps 23 / 1 Jn 3:1-3)

Today is not the feast of the dead.  The liturgical commemoration of all the faithful departed is tomorrow, November 2, not yet today.

Today is not the feast of the dead.  The dead does not have a feast.  Sadly, it is we, the living, who camp out in cemeteries and make carnivals out of them these days and call our merrymaking “feast of the dead”.  The dead does not need our feasting; they need our prayers instead.

Today is not the feast of the dead.  Today is the feast of the living.  In God all are alive!  Jesus declares in Mt 22:32 and Mk 12:27 that God is not the God of the dead but of the living.  And in Lk 20:38, He adds, “…for to Him all are alive.”

Today is the great festival of saints.  We have gathered today as God’s People.  We give Him thanks for His love that transforms sinners into saints.  We sing of His mercy that “calls us out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pt 2:9).  And as we venerate our brothers and sisters who are raised to the altars as saints, we make our humble resolution to emulate their heroic faith, hope, and love.  Because we know that by our own efforts alone we are bound to fail in this great task, so do we request these our hallowed brethren to pray for us that we may remain open to God’s merciful love and docile to His Spirit at work in us.

Today is the great festival of all saints.  It is also our feast: Happy feastday!  We are saints-in-the-making.  Celebrating the Year of the Laity as Church in the Philippines, we are reminded of our common vocation: “Called to be saints.  Sent forth as heroes.”  Let us be saints.  Let us be heroes.  Let us be saints and heroes together, helping one another to live to the fullest our dignity as God’s children and disciples of Jesus, His Son.  Let us be holy.  And holiness is the perfection of charity.  The more loving we are the holier we become.  This is because true love is not only of God but is God Himself.  In 1 Jn 4:16, we read: “God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.”  Let us love in word and, most of all, in deeds.  Let us love like Jesus.  And to love like Jesus means to totally surrender our selves to God who is Father to us and to offer life-giving service to all.

Christ-like love is not only the way to holiness; it is also the key to happiness.  This is what the Gospel tells us today.  Genuine happiness is not in being wealthy with material treasures but in having God as your only treasure.  We may have all the riches in the world but without Him we have nothing.  Real happiness is in being gentle and merciful, never in brute force nor in revenge.  There is nothing more powerful than purity of heart which is single heartedness in our relationship with God and with one another.  To be truly free so as to be in solidarity with others is the kind of happiness that this world cannot give nor take away.  To work for God’s kingdom – hungering for righteousness and striving to be peacemakers – gives a sense of deepest joy.  Authentic happiness is found in fidelity to God in good times and in bad.  In all these, Christ-like love is the first requirement.

On this great festival of all saints, Jesus gives us the magna carta of happiness.  And the best commentary to it is neither this homily nor anything, but only the very life of Jesus Himself.  The best way to observe it is to love like Him.  The lives of the countless holy men and women testify to this.  And they are all happy.  There are no sad saints.  All saints are happy.  That is what “blessed” – beatus in Latin – literally means: “happy”!  The Beatitudes is the magna carta for a blessed life, a truly and eternally happy life.

Saints are like stars that shine upon us from above.  And darkness cannot overcome them, for it is when it is darkest that they rather shine even more brightly for us.  Why?  Because they themselves know how it is to be in the dark, for they had been there also until they accepted the Light Himself, Jesus, and allowed Him to shine in and through them.  With exception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was privileged to be preserved from the stain of any sin, all saints have defects.  And I dare say that that is good!  Because Jesus, who is the Light, can shine through the cracks of their broken lives.

Today is not the feast of the dead.  Today is the feast of the living and the loving.  In God all are alive.  And whoever lives in love lives in Him.  This is the feast of all saints.  This, too, is our feast.

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