Solemnity Of All Saints
The famous writer, JRR Tolkien, said that “We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile (italics added).” Tolkien is referring to the fact that even though we already catch a glimpse of Eden by living on this beautiful earth, the false sense of exile still makes us think that this present earth is not our true home. The consequence of this attitude is that we continue to exploit the earth as if it were only a temporary quarter to support us as we move on to a better place. This illusion of exile prevents us from making a personal connection with our own earth. Living with the pandemic, which is characterized by social distancing, can give us a similar illusion. Social distancing can give us also the false impression of “exile,” that we “should not” make deep and personal connections with one another. This is why social distancing can incapacitate us from recognizing the depth of one another’s presence. If we think that we are now living in exile, then we are prone to exploiting one another’s presence.
Celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, we are not centering on the distance between us and the saints. We are not focusing on how we are still in exile and that the saints are already in the better place. On the contrary, we are celebrating the mystery of unity between us and the saints. Regardless of the difference in time and space between us and the saints, we are united with the saints in our own personal response to God’s call to be holy. Yes, we are united in this call from God to be holy. Together with the saints, we are trying to live this call from God. God calls each of us to be holy according to Jesus’ way, the way of the Beatitudes. Just as the saints proved themselves worthy to live the life of the Beatitudes, we are also trying to show God that we too want to be worthy to live such a way of life. With the help of the living testimony of the saints we can have a sense of direction as to how to live God’s call concretely. Thus, we are not called to be holy like the saints in the sense that we should passively imitate the saints’ personal life. Rather, just like the saints, we too want to implement the Beatitudes in our daily concrete life.
That is why we are here celebrating All Saints not to exploit their help to us, as if our concrete initiatives to be holy do not count. We are not passive in our devotion to the Saints. Through begging for their support, we are becoming more and more devoted to adopting the Beatitudes in our very own lives. During the beatification of Carlo Acutis, Pope Francis praised the life of the Blessed Carlo Acutis. He said, “Blessed Carlo Acutis grasped the needs of his time, because he saw the face of Christ in the weakest.” I believe this echoes the Beatitude which says, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God”. The example of Blessed Carlo’s life stresses the importance of our own awareness in wanting to become holy men and women who see God in daily life.
My dear brothers and sisters, situated within the tendency of this world to avoid becoming holy, or to choose passive devotion to the saints, let us be aware of the true essence of our celebration today. We are celebrating the saints because their faith in God inspires us to do the same, to try to become holy the way God wants us to become holy, to initiate adopting the Beatitudes as our own way of life.
Fr. Antonius Firmansyah, SJ