“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. . . . . Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat” (Revelation 7:9, 13 – 16)
Do you know any saints, beloved reader? I do. Not saints as the Roman Catholic church recognizes them and categorizes them. But I know, or knew, people who have attained sainthood simply by virtue of having lived an authentic Christian life, and have been taken to heaven. They are not worshiped or prayed to. In fact, they would not want that. It was enough for them that they could encourage believers in their life, and attain eternal life. That really is what All Saint’s Day is about. Not the saints that have been beatified; but ordinary people living ordinary lives but who had followed the Extraordinary Divine.
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
It is perhaps the same John who wrote Revelation that also identified his readers as “children of God”. What that will mean in the world to come, we are not sure. Those who have gone ahead of us leave us no clues as to what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. But their lives are testament to how to get to the Kingdom of Heaven.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:1-12)
Through the gospel writers Jesus also left us instructions as to how to live this life, and attain the life to come. Why humanity ignores that advice, I do not know. But we do not life that life in a perfect way, that I know. It is because it is hard, very hard to life that way consistently day to day. The saints, those believers who have gone before us, did not life it in a perfect way. I know that because I knew them in this life. Their imperfection and their striving to live more accountably is actually a better testimony than a perfect life. Their example shows us to never ever give up. And it shows us God’s grace and mercy to those who do strive every day. May we hold that example in our spirits and our hearts, and may live it out. Shalom & Selah!