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All Saints

Mt. 5:1-12

Today we keep the feast of all our brothers and sisters who have gone before us and live with God in Heaven.

They include the many famous saints who have been canonised by an official decree of the Church. We revere them as role models, people who lived good lives and received from the Lord eternal happiness.

They come from every country, every walk of life. They are men and women, young and old, rich and poor. Some were highly educated, and others never went to school. The recognised saints of the Church are different in hundreds of ways, but are similar in some basic ways.

They lived disciplined lives. They had in Jesus a divine role model to follow and faithfully did so, often at the price of terrible suffering and hardships. They were dedicated to their cause of holiness and were determined to see it through at all costs. They had a great capacity for loving God and their neighbour. They were unselfish people. They lived for a reason far beyond their own wants and comforts, and thus found their lives to be extremely productive. We read accounts of how much they had to suffer. Although they appeared heroic, they considered themselves weak and relied on the Holy Spirit to make them holy.

We also celebrate today the multitudes of other saints, most of whose names we do not know but who lived lives of love and service. Some of them were people we loved like our parents and grandparents, or our own brothers and sisters who died when they were young and who led innocent lives.

The Church today presents to us these saints who lived lives of outstanding holiness for our admiration and imitation. The past is filled with them and we have every reason to believe that the future will be likewise. We are well acquainted with the famous names of the past and some of the household names of our day - but who will be the saints of tomorrow? From where will they come? Have we ever thought of aspiring to be a future saint? Everyone, with God’s help, has a chance for there is no one way, nor one type of person, to be a saint.

I love the story of the artist who used to paint portraits in shopping centres. One day a man worse for drink asked for one of himself. The artist took great care over his work although the drunk was impatient and wanted to see the finished portrait. 'Don’t hurry me. I want to make a portrait that will please you.' When finished he showed it to the drunk who said, 'That’s not me. You have made me look like a fine, clean-living man.' The artist replied, 'That’s exactly how you could look if you gave up drinking to excess.'

We all need to be challenged to live a higher and holier style of life. That is the invitation that the Church offers us today. If at this moment we are hurting or are discouraged, let us recall to mind what God has in store for us and has prepared for those who love Him.

No matter what we are at the present or have been in the past, we can become better, virtuous and saintly. God’s graces and the example, encouragement and invitation of the saints can turn a tragic beginning into a brilliant success story. Anyone can do it and millions have. There have been some like the repentant thief on his cross, Margaret of Cortona and Augustine of Hippo who made a complete turn around in their lives on the road to holiness. We now ask these saints to pray for us that one day we hope to join them.

If we live by those standards that Jesus lays down into today’s Gospel we will be holy people. We shall be God’s children, His saints in Heaven.

Heavenly Father, as we reflect on the beatitudes of Jesus in today’s Gospel, let us take comfort and delight in the last sentence, “Be glad and rejoice for your reward in Heaven will be great.”

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