Today, after a night of “trick-or-treat” where even animals were dressed in costume as someone other than themselves (See the NBC Evening News, 10/31), we celebrate the saints. St. Paul used to call those he encountered on his travels “saints” to impress on them, perhaps, what John the Evangelist meant when he wrote, “See what love God has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yes, we are God’s children now…What we shall be later has not yet been revealed…when it is revealed we shall be like God…(1 JN 3:1-3). This all presupposes an understanding of the process of becoming mature, fully human persons – not perfect at the outset, but by the time we meet God, ready and able to look into God’s eyes and see ourselves as God sees us because we have done our best to become whole/holy. Psalm 24:6, the refrain for this morning, sings repeatedly, “This is the people that longs to see your face…” It seems to me that this is a good expression of the impetus for living life in the best way we can, which is, I believe, all that God asks.
It is true that history focuses on the “great saints” – many of whom have led lives of luxury or debauchery until some cataclysmic event or deep suffering has caused their conversion. Happily, today we are able to point as well to those whose steadiness and goodness all their lives have given us such example that we – if not in an official way – recognize them as saints. The Sermon on the Mount (MT 5:1-12) gives us this morning a “guidebook” of practices that lead to the fullness of life that we call sainthood. Jesus calls “Blessed” those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek and merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, those who hunger and thirst and/or are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
Perhaps today is a day to reflect on what Jesus set out for us as a starter kit to saintliness, seeking in our lives examples of the “categories” listed above. And remember: God is on our side as we seek; “we are already God’s children!” And then we might look around – with God’s eyes – for other “saints in the making” and spend this day as a feast of gratitude. Happy All Saints Day!