Dear brother priests concelebrating in this Mass, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we are celebrating this Mass in the Crypt of the Manila Cathedral to pray for the former Archbishops of Manila who already passed away especially those very dear – Archbishop Michael O’ Doherty, Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes, Cardinal Rufino J. Santos and Cardinal Jaime L. Sin. We also offer this Mass for all our deceased bishops, priests, religious men and women and lay faithful who ministered and served in the Archdiocese of Manila especially those who died this past year. May the Lord grant them the rewards they deserve.
Today, on the Solemnity of All Saints, we honor all the saints, canonized or not, who shared in the risen glory of Christ. We believe that there are many, probably billions of men and women who are now with the Lord in heaven. As we honor them all today, we also call to mind some important roots about the saints.
First, saints are children of God. St. Hon in our second reading today talks about our true identity as children of God and there is no better way to prove that we are children of God than in a life of a saint who reveals and manifests God. That is why saints are often described as stained glass windows.
Here in the Manila Cathedral, we have many beautiful stained glass windows. But we can only appreciate the beauty of stained glass windows when light passes through them. It is the light that gives them life, color and beauty. Without the light, the stained glass windows are lifeless and dull.
That is also true of the saints. We honor the saints not simply because of their exemplary lives and heroic deeds, but because they allow the light of Christ to pass through their lives. Through their lives, God is made manifest and by doing that, they have lived as true children of God.
Second, saints are intercessors. We all have our favorite saints for particular needs. There is a patron or patroness for this particular need or that specific concern. We pray to them. We ask them to pray for us. We ask for their intercession.
In our first reading, we are told of a vision of the saints in heaven. They are the countless men and women from every nation, race, people and time who stand before the throne and before the lamb. They are so close to God and so they could bring our prayers to God. This is what the communion of saints is all about. Even though the saints are enjoying the glory of heaven, they remained connected to us. They have not forgotten us. They intercede for us and we benefit from their prayers.
Finally, saints are our models and examples. In the Beatitudes, which we hear in our gospel today, Jesus identifies various kinds of experiences like being poor in spirit, meek and pure of heart, showing mercy, mourning and experiencing sorrow, walking for peace and undergoing persecutions and how each of these and all of these can be occasions of blessedness. And the lives of the saints teach us that the roads to Christ’s glory are many. And there is nothing in our life that cannot be a means towards holiness. Even the experiences, the world considers as unfavorable and to be avoided can be events full of grace and blessedness. In this aspect, the saints are not only worthy of our veneration but also our imitation. They show us that what we go through in life can and should make us holy.
My dear friends, let us thank God today for the saints who are manifestations of his glory, who are our intercessors and who are our models and examples of holiness.
Today, we are also reminded that like the saints, we are also children of God. through the intercession of Mary, let us pray that one day, we, too, maybe found worthy to enter heaven and to join in the company of saints, to stand before the glorious throne and give endless glory to God our Father. Amen. (RCAM-AOC)