The Solemnity of All Saints

First Reading Revelation 7:2-4,9-14
Second Reading 1 John 3:1-3
Gospel Matthew 5:1-12

"See what love the Father has bestowed on us, in letting us be called children of God!"

“Children of God.” That is what it means to be a saint: to be a child of God.

We all know that a child resembles his or her parent, for good and for ill. So in telling us that we can be called “children of God”, St. John the Beloved Disciple is telling us that there’s something in us that resembles God, that is inherently good, since of course there is nothing bad in God. From Adam we inherit Original Sin and its consequences.

As we celebrate the feast of All Saints with the Church throughout the world, we ask: “What does it mean to be a saint?” “What is that something in us that resembles God?”

At the moment that each of us was conceived, as our parents shared in the power of God the Creator, that very God called each one of us into existence, and gave us life.

But it’s not the fact that we are alive that makes us children of God, for God could have given us any form of life He wanted. He could have made us a plant, or a lower form of animal on the ladder of created things. All these things have life, but they are not children of God.

We tend to think that it’s our gifts of personality, intelligence, social status, our salaries, or the size of our homes that makes us who we are. And sad to say, in the eyes of other people that may be true. Other people may rate us as persons according to these things. But God’s ways are not our ways.

In the eyes of God, what makes you human is your capacity to be transformed: your capacity to be transformed into something other than what you began life as. This doesn’t simply mean the ability to change form: all animals change shape and size from being an embryo, to an infant, to a youngster, to an adult. We are a human being throughout, and are the same person throughout.

But to put this in a single word, human life is marked by the possibility of “transcendence”. As humans, God has given us the power to change our position on that ladder: we can climb that ladder, and reach for Heaven. We can approach God and become like Him. As children of God, we resemble God to the extent that we are holy.