revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 john 3:1-3; matthew 5:1-12
during the world war ii, england had a great difficulty keeping men in the coal mines. it was a thankless kind of job, totally lacking in any glory. many joined the military… something that would give them social acceptance and recognition.
to motivate these men to remain in the mines, winston churchill delivered a speech to thousands of coal miners stressing the importance of their role in the war effort. he told them to picture the grand parade that would take place when ve day came: first would come the sailors of the british navy, who had upheld the grand tradition of trafalgar. next would come the pilots of the royal air force, who had saved england from the dreaded german luftwaffe. the army that had stood tall at the crises of dunkirk would follow. and then would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps, who had helped those ahead of them stay in battle.
a portrayal of the grand parade at the end of time would be something similar: first would be the apostles, then the doctors of the church and the founders of religious orders… bringing up the rear would be thousands of «ordinary» men and women who lived lives of humility and service in JESUS’ name and for his sake. these are the «all saints» who make up the great «cloud of witnesses» and whom we honour today.
the first reading from the book of revelation depicts this «parade»! st john has «a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue» who have «washed their robes… in the blood of the lamb.»
these unheralded and unknown saints are those who have lived the beatitudes… those who have discovered the blessedness of being poor in spirit, of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, of showing mercy and even of experiencing persecution because of JESUS’.
today’s feast is a reminder that GOD’s call for holiness is universal; all of us are called to live in his love and to live the beatitudes.
will i strive to be holy in my daily and ordinary life? will i live the beatitudes… in dependence on GOD?