03 November, 2015

Homily for the Solemnity of All Saints – We shall see him as he really is

1John 3:1-3
‘We shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is’ (1John 3:2)
In the last couple of weeks, as I went out to do some shopping I noticed how many of the stores were already decorated with Christmas trees; at the same time, in some other shops, the staff sported fancy dresses for Halloween. You have probably noticed this too. The clashing of the two decorations can be rather unfortunate; Christmas lights and witches, glimmering plastic angels and pretend zombies… and all this among persistent adverts to convince you that Christmas is just not going to be Christmas if you do not order your brand new couch now.
We may disapprove of stores using Christmas decorations in October, but we must admit that so many of us behave exactly the same, being those sort of persons who always look forward to the next new thing, to the newest entertaining gadget, and who never enjoy what they have in the present, nor have any sense of overarching goal for their lives. It is a bit like driving and looking only at the front of your bonnet or at your satnav without either enjoying the journey or having any thoughts about the destination towards which we travel. This behaviour that prompts us to look out for the next best thing is really common to many people; yet should try to take a step back from it and think how we understand our use of time, what parameters do we use to value our lives, and in a sense, if all we do is jumping from one thing to the next best one, never satisfied and never knowing where we are going, what is the point of it all?

‘We shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is’
With these words our second reading tells us that our final destination, our ultimate goal in life, is the vision of God or seeing God as he his. In theological terms this final end is often called the “Beatific Vision”, the vision which bestows blessedness on the beholder, meaning that by seeing God as he is, we will be blessed by what we see. This is the incredible gift of God, not that humanity can be merely saved, but that it is regenerated, transformed and made to take part of His divine life. And today, as we celebrate All Saints Day we celebrate all those who have already reached this vision of God in heaven and who rejoice forever in the heavenly Jerusalem. As we keep the Solemnity of All Saints our celebration should remind us of a couple of things; first, the vision of God which the saints enjoy is our destination too. This is the end towards which our lives should be oriented. The vision of God should be the North Pole for our spiritual compass – with the grace of God being the needle pointing towards it. It should be the “X” on our treasure map, with the trail of grace marking the way to it. Secondly, by celebrating in one special day all the saints that have ever lived we are reminded that there is an enormous ‘cloud of witnesses’ (Heb 12:1) in heaven rejoicing with us as we journey on towards the vision of God. We are not alone, but through the communion of saints, these brothers and sisters who have reached the heavenly Jerusalem ahead of us cheer us on, and they encourage us on our way. When times get tough on our earthly pilgrimage we can rely on their constant prayers to help us out as they wait for us to join them home.

‘We shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is’
Ultimately, today’s celebration should inspire us to redirect ourselves towards the vision of God, to convert our lives in order to achieve this blessed end. Therefore, as we give glory to God for his saints, let us renew our efforts in running towards the heavenly city, addressing all those bad habits and inclinations that hold us back and do not tend towards our final goal.

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