The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 1, 2020 – All Saints - Matthew 5:1-12
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I don’t know whose idea it was to have a feast day for all the saints, in other words, for all those now with God in heaven, but it was a brilliant idea. My research indicates that this feast goes back to when it was first celebrated in Rome when the Church converted the Roman Pantheon (one of the world’s great architectural and engineering accomplishments) from being dedicated to all the gods to all the saints!
That would include not only those known but those unknown. In the early years of the Church most of the official saints would be martyrs. But there were countless others who lived holy lives and enjoy eternal life with God. Today we salute all of them. With them, we give thanks to God for creating us, loving us, redeeming us, forgiving us and bringing us to the place for which we were created, eternal life with God and life with each other.
All Saints Day should be a special day for families. We should recall our saintly parents, grandparents and all our ancestors who enriched our lives and have passed on to the next life.
We can also remember friends and neighbors who played a role in our lives. It is a great day to think about those who helped us along our own journeys, like dedicated teachers, healthcare professionals, those who served in the military, those who kept us safe, all those who have laboured in the vineyard and who are now enjoying God’s presence, as we sometimes say, God’s full presence.
The Church has a rich tradition of inviting us to remain in touch with those who have gone before us. We pray for the intercession of saints who have lived exemplary lives and who have been formally canonized by the Church. But we should also pray for the assistance of those not officially listed in the Church’s list of saints, but whom we believe are now with God. Pray to grandmothers and grandfathers who set the stage for our arrival. For deceased parents who directly brought us into this world and who cared for us, especially when we could not care for ourselves.
I like to think of us, those still here and those who have moved on, as part of one great family. This is a favorite image of the Church that is popular on Africa. It could be a vibrant way of thinking about ourselves wherever we live – here or “up there.”
©David M. Thomas, PhD