Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
1 John 3:1-3
Today is a feast that we can all rejoice in – All Saints Day, the feast of all those now with the Lord in eternal life and happiness.
While we gratefully celebrate today all the officially entitled Saints, in particular we celebrate all those "small-s" saints, ordinary people like ourselves, who now rest and relax in love and joy at the heavenly table. They include persons we knew, at whose death we grieved, and for whom we prayed everyday that God may take them quickly to Himself. Believing in purgatory, we also believe in the release from purgatory, and there must be many whom we knew who have already been released to see Him face to face. We include, likewise, the vast majority who had no empirical knowledge of the Lord, but who were drawn by His Spirit to follow their conscience in love.
The first reading, Revelation, speaks of these truths, proclaiming them in symbolic form. The number of those marked by the seal, for example, is 144,000: 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000. The number "12-squared" indicates perfection, completeness; it is multiplied by a thousand, symbol of greatness – a thousand times the 12 tribes of Israel, times the 12 Apostles and their followers, all sealed and gathered to the Lord. And after this we see another multitude, this time so grand it is unable to be counted – wearing white robes and carrying palms, symbols of purity, integrity, and victory.
The second reading follows with an additional truth: The letter of John speaks to us about another group of "small-s" saints that is included in today’s feast. That group is us – you and me -and all others alive today who are with us in the Spirit. John tells us clearly that God so loves us that He makes us His children. What John is saying is that God, Father/Mother to us, has given us His Spirit so that we are really children of God; Jesus’s Spirit, the Spirit of God, now dwells in us. John does emphasize that we are growing children. What we will look like when we have reached maturity "has not yet been revealed," but we know that "we shall be like him." John calls us to this growth – more and more becoming Christ to and for others, the maturity of the children of God. Let us then rejoice today, growing in Christ, for in time "We shall see Him as He is."
Br. Peter A. Fitzpatrick, CFX, a Xaverian Brother, is a Passionist Associate at Ryken House, across the creek from the Passionist Monastery, in Louisville, Kentucky.