All Saints’ Day
At first glance it seems curious that the lectionary assigns St. John’s account of the raising of Lazarus for All Saints’ Day. We shall lay aside speculation about what memories Lazarus had of life after life. We may even regret that the poor fellow was fated eventually to go through the whole experience again. In Jesus there is life after life.
|First reading and psalm: Wis. 3:1-9 • Ps. 24
Alternate: Isa. 25:6-9 • Rev. 21:1-6a
The Book of Revelation, mysterious though it is, takes us to that moment when death is finally eradicated, when heaven and earth are reunited, and the saints in heaven and those on earth are reunited. Meanwhile, we live in anticipatory communion. As the hymn puts it, we enjoy “mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.” Nowhere is this more true or experienced than in worship and most particularly the Eucharist. There we participate “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven” united with the departed through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Through worship we realize that we are “compassed about” with a “cloud of witnesses.” We run the race of our life in that company. We are never alone.
The Church distinguishes between saints and other departed. The saints, holy ones, are those who have been recognized as having lived particularly virtuous lives. Some have been killed because of their faith in Jesus. In a sense we are all saints, made holy, separated for service in baptism. Some of us have been further set apart as heroic examples of Christian life and virtue. That does not mean that they were always good, or pleasant to be around. Only Jesus is good. They overcame many temptations through the grace of God. Their lives are distinguished by their bearing the burdens of their own sins, while living heroically for God and for others. Their examples encourage us and spur us on to aspire for holiness. We unite with them in conversation, for that is what prayer means. That holy conversation transforms us from glory into glory until we see God’s face.
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Look It Up
Read the lessons for the day.
Think About It
Do you have a favorite saint? Why have you chosen that saint? How does the saint inspire you toward virtue?