01 November 2016

Where we came from, where we are going

From 2012. . .

Solemnity of All Saints
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

“Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” So writes St. John. What do we know about what we will become? “We do know that when [what are to become] is revealed we shall be like him. . .” We will be like God. How is this possible? “. . .for we shall see him as he is.” To see God as He is, face-to-face, is to become like Him. John writes, “Everyone who has this hope [—to see Him face-to-face—] makes himself pure, as he is pure.” Those who lived with the hope of living forever in the presence of God's glory; those who have become all that they were made to be; those who have gone to see God face-to-face—these, we call “saints.” Both named and unnamed, both those still with us and those who rest in Christ—that “great multitude. . .from every nation, race, people, and tongue,” all the saints of God, testify before the throne in heaven and among us here and now that “salvation comes from our God. . .and from the Lamb;” therefore, we are blessed to exclaim along with them, “Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever!” 

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” So writes St John. And we are children of God. Made so by God so that we might become saints through Christ. First, we were loved into existence out of nothingness; then, we were loved into freedom through mercy; then, we were free to love so that Love Himself might be perfected in us; then, and only then, were we shown, if we will it, how to take a place among the blessed: die to self. Take up your cross. Follow Christ. The poor in spirit; the meek; those who mourn; the clean of heart; the peacemakers; all those who hunger and thirst for righteous—all are among the blessed, the saints, because they desired nothing and no one more than they desired Christ. Christ is who they all most wanted to followed, most wanted to be. And they died for love as a sacrifice for many. Whether they died by the sword, the firing squad, by poverty and obedience; by wearying service; or surrender to solitude, they died first to self. Picked up their cross. And followed Christ. 

We celebrate this solemnity for all God's saints. Those named and unnamed, that “great multitude. . .from every nation, race, people, and tongue,” both those still with us and those who rest already in Christ. But we don't celebrate their lives and deaths b/c they need us our prayers and attention. We celebrate all the saints of the Church b/c we need to. And not simply b/c they stand above us as examples of holiness; and not just b/c they are pioneers for us along the narrow Way; and not only b/c we need their heavenly help before the throne of God, but b/c they are now who we can become if we will to become more than children of God. What we will become has not yet been revealed. But we know this: whatever we become, we will be like God for we will see Him as he is, face-to-face. And in seeing Him face-to-face, we will be made perfect as He is perfect. We celebrate all the saints of God's holy family so that we never forget where we came from (dirt and ash) and where we might end (among the blessed). All the angels and saints, along with the Blessed Mother and our own St. Dominic, proclaim before the throne of God: “Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever!” If you will it. . .die to self. . .take up your cross. . .and follow Christ, you will stand among them.


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