Father Jacques de Longeaux, parish priest of Saint-Pierre du Gros Caillou (Paris VII), comments on the readings for the solemnity of All Saints (Ap 7, 2-14; Ps 23; 1Jn 3, 1-3; Mt 5 , 1-12). Our Eucharistic celebrations are a reflection of the celestial liturgy, the liturgy of the saints and of the angels who sing their canticle of thanksgiving.
The first reading of this feast of all saints is taken from the Apocalypse of Saint John. The word “apocalypse” means not “destruction”, “catastrophe”, but “revelation”, “unveiling”. A corner of the veil which conceals from our earthly eyes the sight of the realities of the celestial world is lifted. An image is given to us: that of an innumerable crowd, coming from all walks of life, of men and women in white robes – a symbol of purity – each holding a palm in their hand – a symbol of victory. These are the saints. They followed Jesus crucified until the end of the gift of themselves. They emerged victorious from the fight against evil. They triumphed over the persecution. They remained faithful through the trials. They come from all the peoples of the earth. They are immensely numerous.
They took seriously the word of Christ
Holiness is the success of God’s plan for man. It is the superabundant fruit of divine grace. The canonized saints are only a small part—the visible part—of the world of holiness. They serve us as examples, guides, friends in our Christian life. But most of the saints remain unknown, except to those around them whom they enlightened with their presence, but also jostled by their evangelical life. The saints are very diverse. All human types are represented in “the immense procession of all the saints”. However, they have this in common: their desire to follow Christ, to love God and their neighbor in action has been deemed excessive. They went beyond religious and social proprieties, beyond the rules of a comfortable Christianity. They took the words of Christ seriously, they sought to follow his teachings to the letter (think of Francis of Assisi).
The mass on earth, like the celestial liturgy, is an assembly of saints.
Here they are gathered before the Throne of God. They taste the beatitude promised by Jesus to the poor in heart, to those who mourn, to the meek, to the hungry and thirsty for justice, to the merciful, to the pure in heart, to the peacemakers, to those who are persecuted for the justice of the Kingdom. They give glory to God whom they see face to face after having sought and loved him in the dark. They praise him with a loud voice, they give thanks with an open throat for the salvation that God accomplishes through Jesus Christ, the slain Lamb.
The Liturgy of Heaven
They are not alone in heaven: around the Throne there are the four living beings, whom Christian tradition identifies with the four evangelists, as well as the twenty-four elders. You can see the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve apostles. They represent the people of the first covenant and the people of the new covenant united in praising and worshiping God. And then, all the angels are there. They prostrate themselves before God and sing a hymn of thanksgiving: “Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power and strength to our God, forever and ever! Amen! » (Rev 7, 12.) What unfolds before our eyes in heaven is a liturgy, a thanksgiving that rises up to God, a song of joy, a hymn of thanksgiving.
Our Eucharistic celebrations are a reflection of the celestial liturgy, an anticipated participation in worship celebrated by saints and angels. Our masses are a moment of heaven on earth. Gathered around the altar for the Eucharistic celebration, we sing to the thrice holy God whose glory fills heaven and earth and we bless Him who comes in his name. Let’s sing to God out loud and not lip service! May our voices, may our persons be united to the sacrifice of thanksgiving (to the Eucharist) of Jesus!
Already holy by the grace of baptism
The mass on earth, like the celestial liturgy, is an assembly of saints. We are far from being saints, you will say. This is unfortunately true. This is why we still need at the beginning of each mass to implore the forgiveness of our sins. And yet we are already holy by the grace of baptism, renewed each time we confess. God sanctifies us so that we can offer him, in the Spirit, true worship. At each Mass we receive the call and the gift of holiness. May we live in coherence with what we celebrate, to one day taste the bliss of saints and angels.
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[Homélie] On All Saints’ Day, a corner of the veil on the celestial world is lifted
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