I just returned from my third Mass of the day on this celebration of All Saints (two in the parish and one at the school - at the school Mass I was assisted as servers by some heavyweights ... the Archangel Gabriel, Bridget of Sweden and the bishop Patrick). At all of the Masses I reminded those listening that sainthood is not the destiny of a select few, as it is often perceived. Rather it is the province of all who through the waters of baptism are united with Christ and are recipients of his grace and favor.
The reading from Revelation has John sharing his vision of 144,000 marked with the Blood of the Lamb. That 144,000 is not a limiting or restrictive number. I mentioned that numbers in the scriptures have meanings beyond the obvious, and that the number twelve represents fulfillment, completion, the totality of things, wholeness. There are the twelve tribes of Israel that describe the entirety of God's People ... the twelve Apostles who represent the completeness of the new Covenant People ... even the twelve baskets of "leftovers" after the feeding of the multitude reminding us that God will provide for all and beyond. Add to the number twelve the number one thousand, which signifies limitlessness and abundance and you have moved it to a higher level. Multiply the number 12,000 by 12,000 and you have 144,000 - not a limiting number but one that speaks of fulfillment, completion, the totality and wholeness of all that is. In the next line John describes this group as being a vast crowd that no one could count.
Holiness (sainthood) is not limiting, but a gifted right of all believers. Those recognized by the Church as Saints are examples and models for the rest of us who are on journey. They are our heroes. They show us that the weakest and the greatest, women and men, young and old, poor and rich, even sinners who accept the mercy of God are called to that glory that holiness brings. It begins at our baptism, our incorporation into Christ, and continues throughout all eternity. Our destiny is to join the other saints and angels in standing before the throne of God singing the praise of the Father. Our role is to help others on their journey by lovingly being an example for them.
On this day when we honor the Saints of God, we also celebrate our call to holiness and the grace that makes the response to that call possible. HAPPY FEAST DAY, SAINTS OF GOD!