We often jest to others that we will all be surprised by whom we shall see in heaven– assuming, of course, that WE will make it there!
Today is observed in the Catholic Church as All Saints Day – a day of holy obligation to attend mass.
Certainly, the qualities of those who achieve sainthood are not the same as those who achieve renown in this world. The Kingdom of Heaven embraces the least, the lost and the left out as the first to enter God’s eternity.
The Book of Revelation speaks of those in heaven being of every nation, race and tongue. St. Augustine taught that heaven will include inhabitants which the Church does not even include in its membership.
So, we think of the great saints today. We think of St. Paul whose grasp of the mind of Christ has never been equaled. We think of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and Francis of Assisi, and Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, and Ignatius Loyola and the North American Martyrs and Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Many of these attracted and attract world fame. They have helped to shape the faith of millions.
But most of the real giants of faith have been ordinary people, who for the most part were little known outside their immediate circle. Many a saint was just known to a few people whose lives they personally touched and to whom they gave hope. They are the quiet saints who manifested the qualities we read in the gospel of this feast – poverty of spirit, humility, purity of heart, mercy, hunger for justice, and peacemakers. We are surrounded by such people and we have been enriched by them.
The daily life of many people consists of great sacrifices and acts of quiet heroism. Today is a day to remember the saints, both great and small, who have followed the path of faithfulness to God and service of others. A writer once said, “Despite all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Many people still strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.”
Though the lives and memory of the saints, we receive hope for our own dingy little lives. Suddenly the possibilities seem endless.