Solemnity of All Saints
A family celebration
Today’s first reading, from the Book of Revelation, speaks to us about heaven and sets before us “a great multitude”, innumerable, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9). They are the saints. What do they do up there in heaven? They sing together, they joyfully praise God. It would be beautiful to hear their song…. But we can imagine it: do you know when? During Mass, when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts…”. It is a hymn, the Bible says, which comes from heaven, which is sung there (cf. Is 6:3; Rev 4:8), a hymn of praise. Thus, by singing the Sanctus, not only do we think of the saints, but we do as they do: at that moment, in the Mass, we are united with them more than ever.
And we are united with all the saints: not only the most well known, from the calendar, but also those “next door”, our family members and acquaintances who are now part of that great multitude. Therefore, today is a family celebration. The saints are close to us, indeed they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, love us, know what is truly good for us, help us and await us. They are happy and want us to be happy with them in paradise.
Thus they invite us on the path of happiness, indicated by today’s beautiful and well-known Gospel passage: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…. Blessed are the meek…. Blessed are the pure in heart…” (cf. Mt 5:3-8). But how? The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the overbearing. The Gospel says blessed are the pure, while the world says blessed are the cunning and the pleasure-seekers. This way of the Beatitudes, of holiness, seems to always lead to defeat. Yet — the first reading also reminds us — the Saints hold “palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9), which is a symbol of victory. They have prevailed, not the world. And they exhort us to choose their side, that of God who is Holy.
Let us ask ourselves which side we are on: that of heaven or that of earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some immediate gratification? Let us ask ourselves: do we truly want holiness? Or are we content with being Christians without infamy and without praise, who believe in God and esteem their neighbour, but without overemphasizing. “The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, 1). Thus, either holiness or nothing! It is good for us to let ourselves be spurred by the saints, who did not use half-measures here, and are ‘cheering us on’ from there, so that we may choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity, so that we may be impassioned by heaven rather than earth.
Today our brothers and sisters do not ask us to listen to another fine Gospel passage, but to put it into practice, to set out on the way of the Beatitudes. It is not a matter of doing extraordinary things, but of following, each day, this way that leads us to heaven, leads us to family, leads us home. Thus today we glimpse our future and we celebrate what we were born for: we were born so as to die no more; we were born to enjoy God’s happiness! The Lord encourages us and says to those setting out on the path of the Beatitudes: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:12). May the Holy Mother of God, Queen of Saints, help us to decisively follow the road to holiness; may she, who is the Gate of Heaven, introduce our departed loved ones into the heavenly family.
Pope Francis 1.11.2018
The way of holiness
In the Gospel we listened to Jesus who was teaching his disciples and the crowd that had gathered on the mountain near the lake of Galilee (cf. Mt 5:1-12). The Word of the risen and living Lord also shows us, today, the way to reach the true beatitude, the way that leads to Heaven. It is difficult to understand the path because it goes against the current, but the Lord tells us that those who go on this path are happy, sooner or later they become happy.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. We might ask ourselves how a person poor of heart can be happy, one whose only treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven. The reason is exactly this: that having the heart stripped and free of so many worldly things, this person is “awaited” in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. How can those who weep be happy? Yet, those who in life have never felt sadness, angst, sorrow, will never know the power of comfort. Instead, happy are those with the capacity to be moved, the capacity to feel in their heart the sorrow that exists in their life and in the lives of others. They will be happy! Because the tender hand of God the Father will comfort them and will caress them.
“Blessed are the meek”. How often are we, on the contrary, impatient, irritable, always ready to complain! We have many demands regarding others, but when our turn comes, we react by raising our voice, as if we were masters of the world, when in reality we are all children of God. Let us think instead of those mothers and fathers who are so patient with their children who “drive them mad”. This is the way of the Lord: the way of meekness and of patience. Jesus traveled this path: as a child he endured persecution and exile; and then, as an adult, slander, snares, false accusations in court; and he endured it all with meekness. Out of love for us he endured even the cross.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”. Yes, those who have a strong sense of justice, and not only toward others, but first of all toward themselves, they will be satisfied, because they are ready to receive the greatest justice, that which only God can give.
Then, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”. Happy are those who know how to forgive, who have mercy on others, who do not judge every thing and every one, but try to put themselves in the place of others. Forgiveness is the thing we all need, without exception. This is why at the beginning of the Mass we recognize ourselves for what we are, namely, sinners. It isn’t an expression or a formality: it is an act of truth. “Lord, here I am, have mercy on me”. If we are able to give others the forgiveness we ask for ourselves, we are blessed. As we say in the “Our Father”: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”. Let us look at the faces of those who go around sowing discord: are they happy? Those who are always seeking occasions to mislead, to take advantage of others, are they happy? No, they cannot be happy. Instead, those who patiently try to sow peace each day, are who artisans of peace, of reconciliation, yes, they are blessed, because they are true children of our Heavenly Father, who sows always and only peace, to the point that he sent his Son into the world as the seed of peace for humanity.
Dear brothers and sisters, this is the way of holiness, and it is the very way of happiness. It is the way that Jesus travelled. Indeed, He himself is the Way: those who walk with Him and proceed through Him enter into life, into eternal life. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be simple and humble people, the grace to be able to weep, the grace to be meek, the grace to work for justice and peace, and above all the grace to let ourselves be forgiven by God so as to become instruments of his mercy.
This is what the Saints did, those who have preceded us to our heavenly home. They accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage, they encourage us to go forward.
Pope Francis 1.11.2015
The Beatitudes, our identity card
Today, with the entire Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. In doing so, we remember not only those who have been proclaimed saints through the ages, but also our many brothers and sisters who, in a quiet and unassuming way, lived their Christian life in the fullness of faith and love. Surely among them are many of our relatives, friends and acquaintances.
Ours, then, is a celebration of holiness. A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism. A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters. A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others. We think of the lives of all those mothers and fathers who sacrifice for their families and are prepared to forego – though it is not always easy – so many things, so many personal plans and projects.
Yet if there is one thing typical of the saints, it is that they are genuinely happy. They found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God. That is why we call the saints blessed. The Beatitudes are their path, their goal towards the homeland. The Beatitudes are the way of life that the Lord teaches us, so that we can follow in his footsteps. In the Gospel of today’s Mass, we heard how Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes before a great crowd on the hill by the Sea of Galilee.
The Beatitudes are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian. Here I would like to mention only one: “Blessed are the meek”. Jesus says of himself: “Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love. Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another. It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity. (…) The saints bring about change through meekness of heart. With that meekness, we come to understand the grandeur of God and worship him with sincere hearts. For meekness is the attitude of those who have nothing to lose, because their only wealth is God.
The Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card. They identify us as followers of Jesus. We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy. Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart. Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others. Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians. All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.
Dear brothers and sisters, the call to holiness is directed to everyone and must be received from the Lord in a spirit of faith. The saints spur us on by their lives and their intercession before God, and we ourselves need one another if we are to become saints. Helping one another to become saints! …
Pope Francis 1.11.2016