We are united with the Saints in Heaven during Mass

Homily for November 1st - Solemnity of All Saints

by Fr. Tommy Lane

The saints are worthy of the honor we bestow on them today. The saints in heaven are more alive than they were here on earth. They have blossomed. Their love has been perfected. Their forgiveness of others has been perfected. They have become who God has called them to be. As our second reading stated,

“Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2)

In the Old Testament no one could see God but in heaven the saints behold God, they enjoy the beatific vision.

Our celebration of Mass today is a foretaste of the liturgy which the saints in heaven continually celebrate. Our first reading from the Book of Revelation (Rev 7:2-4, 9-14) is an excerpt of the vision of the worship in heaven given to St. John. A huge number of people, impossible to count, were standing in front of the throne of the Father and in front of the Jesus the Lamb praising God (Rev 7:9). All the angels were in a circle around the throne also praising God (Rev 7:11). So many elements of our Mass are portrayed throughout the Book of Revelation in John’s vision:

  • There is sacred scripture, a scroll, with writing on both front and back and only Jesus is worthy to open it and read it (Rev 5:1-5).

  • Around the throne creatures sing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.” (Rev 4:8)

  • The Lamb holds a feast and happy are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:9)

Other elements of our Mass which we see in Revelation are

  • There are seven torches before the throne reminding us of candles (Rev 4:5).

  • There are twenty-four elders dressed in priestly garments around the throne (Rev 4:4)

  • The twenty-four elders each had a golden bowl full of incense (Rev 5:8).

The saints in heaven celebrate an unending liturgy and during this Mass we join with them in their heavenly liturgy. During Mass we are more closely united with the saints than ever because during Mass like the saints we are united around the throne and Lamb, we listen to Scripture, we sing “Holy, holy, holy…” and we partake in the Lamb’s feast.

The saints are in heaven, they have arrived where we hope to follow. Our Psalm today asked,

“Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?” (Ps 24:3)

and it answered,

“The man with clean hands and pure heart,
Who desires not worthless things.” (Ps 24:4)

The saints are in the holy place because they have clean hands and pure heart and desire not worthless things. The second reading stated that everyone who hopes to see Jesus in heaven “makes himself pure, as he [Jesus] is pure.” (1 John 3:3) Our Gospel today (Matt 5:1-12) also shows us how to achieve the blessedness of the saints. Those who live the beatitudes store up treasure for themselves in heaven, to us the words of Jesus on another occasion. The 144,000 in the first reading from Revelation (Rev 7:4) sealed on their foreheads with the seal of God lived these beatitudes, especially the last beatitude, being persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Matt 5:10-12).

As we strive to live the beatitudes and arrive where the saints are now, the saints are our allies and intercessors. The twenty-four elders in the Book of Revelation dressed as priests had golden bowls full of incense (Rev 5:8), that incense was the prayers of the saints. The saints pray for us now more than ever they did here on earth. They care more about us now than ever they did while here on earth. As Heb 12:1 says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.”

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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Related Homilies: On the Beatitudes: Jesus’ Prescription for Happiness

Second Reading related: Love of God for us 2009

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