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Ninety-Nine and a Half Won’t Do—A Homily for the Feast of All Saints

Today is the Feast of All Saints. Some saints of the Church have a particular day on the calendar associated with them and are commonly recognized by name. Many more, though not as familiar to us, are still known by God and have been caught up with Him to glory. Today is their day, the day of the countless multitude who have made it home to glory by God’s grace and by their “Amen” to the gracious call of God. Let’s consider these saints under three headings, based on today’s readings.

Their Privileged Place: The first reading today, from Revelation, speaks to us of saints: from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cry out in a loud voice, “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”…They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed, “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Note how liturgical the description is.In fact, the most common way that Heaven is described is in liturgical imagery. The liturgy is a kind of dress rehearsal for Heaven. To those who claim that Mass “boring,” this description can be challenging.

Indeed, many people today have rather egocentric notions of Heaven.Heaven is a place where Iwill be happy, where Iwill see myfamily, where Iwill take leisure. Iwill have mymansion; Iwill no longer get sick; Ican play all the golf want. Heaven is a “better place,” but this better place is generally understood in personal terms; it’s a kind of designer Heaven. But Heaven is what it is, not what we want or conceive it to be.

At the heart of the real Heaven is being with God,looking upon His glorious face and thereby having all our inexpressible longings satisfied. In Heaven, the saints behold the glorious face of God and rejoice. It is their joy to praise Him and to rejoice in His truth, goodness, and beauty.

Note, too, the sense of communion of the saints with both God and one another.The biblical portraits are of a multitude, a vast crowd. The biblical way to understand the multitudes in Heaven is not to envision physical crowding but rather deep communion. In other words, the Communion of Saints is not just a bunch of people standing around chatting.

Read more at Archdiocese of Washington

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