That’s right, because today we are celebrating All Saints’ Day. It is one of those solemnities that are so important that, when it happens to fall on a Sunday like today, the Church skips the liturgy which would have been scheduled for that particular Sunday to celebrate this feast. We love celebrating feasts for saints. Some of us come from places where the feast-day of the saint is one of the main celebrations in the calendar of our town or village. Yet today the Church reminds us that the saints are not only those whose days we celebrate with such gusto. They are not only those whose names are on the liturgical calendar of the Church (unlike the ones above, some of them are simply unknown to most of us). Only God knows how many men and women have journeyed the same journey of faith that we are doing and, in spite of the difficulties and failures which exist in everyone’s life, they managed to make it. These, too, are saints.
When I was still a little boy, I used to love listening to stories of the lives of some saints which spoke of miracles, wonders, and much of the extraordinary. As I grew older, I came to know stories of saints that were much more akin to my own story. Stories where the writer made sure to show that the saint is a normal person like you and me, people who had their struggles in their lives, men and women who sometimes erred, but did not stay there. They are people who did not perform extraordinary miracles, neither in their lives nor after their death. They are, therefore, not listed in the list of people who are formally recognized as saints by the Church. And yet, we believe that they are enjoying God’s full presence like the other more popular saints.
As I write this, I am accompanying my mother on the final leg of her life journey. As I gather with my family around her, we reminisce about many memories that shaped us into who we are today. Thankfully, many are beautiful memories. Others were of hard times or difficult experiences. Looking back, we are grateful for all of it, and we have no doubt that our mother did her best to live out her vocation as a Christian mother and wife. Prayer was always important in her life, because she knew that God had to be her constant companion on her journey. And we have no doubt that when the time comes, she will be joining her own parents, her siblings and her other son in God’s wonderful presence. The life of the saint does not have to be extraordinary!
In today’s first reading St John speaks of the vision where, after seeing 144 thousand in God’s presence, he sees “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages”. The number is infinite, and no tribe, no race is excluded. These are all people who had a similar life like we have. They had problems in their marriages, they struggled to do what they believed was right, they sometimes made mistakes, they had their moments of doubt in their faith.
Today’s feast reminds us that, if these people who were normal people like you and I made it, so can we. Celebrating their feast-day should inspire us to learn from and imitate their lives. And because we believe that they are alive (albeit in a different way) we can ask them to help us in our own journey. That is what praying to the saints is all about.
During this coming week think with a thankful heart of some of those people who can be an inspiration for you in your life. Speak to them, ask them to help you. And believe that, with God’s help, you too can make it.