Browsing Homilies

Solemnity of All Saints

Rev 7:2-4, 9-14 | Ps 24 | 1 Jn 3:1-3 | Mt 5:1-12a

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Many of us could recite these familiar words in our sleep. We pray the Lord’s Prayer each time we gather for Mass, pray the rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours, or participate in a host of other liturgies. Jesus taught his disciples to pray with these words. On this Solemnity of All Saints, let us consider: what might it actually look like for the kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

How have holy people across time participated in the realization of this prayer? The vision of God’s kingdom put forth in today’s first reading from Revelation imagines a time when all people come together before the Lord. Their differences remain. The author recognizes in the multitude those from “every nation, race, people, and tongue.” This insight lets us know that the kingdom of God is not a homogenous place. Rather, the dividing lines drawn so often between differences wash away in God’s kingdom. All join in their uniqueness to worship before the Lamb.

This vision of God’s kingdom coming in heaven might look like Native American St. Kateri Tekakwitha and Spanish St. Ignatius of Loyola (whose relic is reposed in our altar) kneeling side-by-side in praise. It might sound like a joyful jam session with twelfth-century St. Hildegard of Bingen on harp and twentieth-century St. Teresa of the Andes on guitar. It might smell like a great feast prepared by Ss. Martha and Columba of Ireland.

Similarly, this vision of God’s kingdom coming on earth today might look like a black family and a white family sharing a pew in church. It might sound like the giggles of a toddler and an 80-year-old playing peekaboo during the homily. It might smell like a parish hall potluck with families from Parma, Calcutta, and Sicily all bringing their favorite family dish to share. The prayer “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” will be realized in the doing away of divisions and in the celebration of respectable differences. It will also be realized by trusting in the one whose birth wedded heaven and earth forever—Christ Jesus our Lord.

In today’s gospel, Jesus offers a litany of blessings to those whom society often casts aside. Jesus does not say, “Blessed are the rich, the powerful, and the successful.” Instead, he bestows blessings amid suffering. Consider St. Josephine of Bakhita, who after years of enslavement experienced the grace to forgive her former owners. Jesus bestows blessings amid heartache. Consider St. Monica, who after years of prayer and tears saw her wayward son, Augustine, become an influential father and doctor of the Church. Jesus bestows blessings amid injustice. Consider St. Martin de Porres, who after initially being denied admission into a religious order because of his race, went on to make vows and found a children’s hospital. Jesus bestows blessing amid persecution. Consider St. Oscar Romero, who served the people of El Salvador for years in dangerous conditions before his assassination while celebrating Mass—whose own funeral Mass was never completed, as it broke it violence and bloodshed.

Saints across time trusted that Jesus meant what he said when he deemed people blessed in their darkest hours. Their lives bore witness to the inbreaking of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

In the moments that feel least blessed, Jesus asks his followers to trust him. Trust that the Son of God is working to redeem what feels most broken.

Together with the saints, let us keep Christ’s prayer alive: “…thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”


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