The Saints Transformed in Heaven see God

Homily for November 1st - Solemnity of All Saints

by Fr. Tommy Lane

We rejoice in all those who have gone home, gone home to God in heaven, all those from all ages, canonized and uncanonized, who now sing God’s praises around his throne in heaven. They now enjoy God’s love in heaven in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. They’ve made it and we celebrate for them! They are in heaven now because of Jesus. They are in heaven because Jesus paid the price for our sins. They are in heaven because Jesus was scourged at the pillar, was crowned with thorns, carried his cross and died on the cross on Calvary as the sacrificial lamb to take away the sins of the world. Jesus, out of love for us, did everything necessary so that we could enjoy the love of God in heaven. Life is an invitation from God to prepare for eternal life in heaven with all the saints enjoying the love of God in ways that are inconceivable. Perhaps it would be ok to borrow a line from Paul (1 Cor 2:9) and apply it to heaven:

What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9)

The saints are now enjoying God’s love in heaven because God’s love has made us children of God, as John reminded us in the second reading. “Look, what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” (1 John 3:1) Then John makes it clear that we being children of God is not just a name or theological term given to us, he says “so we are.” Everyone is a child of God because we are all created by God but John is referring to us being children of God in a much fuller way as Christians, being born again through baptism. “Look, what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” Then John admits that our knowledge of the next life is limited, “what we shall be has not been revealed.” But we already know something about it now; he says, “We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” In the Old Testament no one could look on God but in the next life we will be transformed and so we will be able to look on God. In these verses, John wants us to understand a very important teaching he is giving us. That is why he begins these verses by saying, “Look.” He has something crucial to say to us. No wonder that these verses have been described as one of the most exhilarating passages in the New Testament. Then John says this hope of transformation and seeing God in the next life demands that we make ourselves pure now, as pure as Christ. We are called to holiness now.

The Beatitudes in today’s Gospel give us a program for living such a life of holiness, trying to be as pure as Christ, to prepare for seeing God in the next life. We have one big goal: to go home to heaven to sing the praises of God with the saints. Living the Beatitudes helps us arrive at our goal. The saints in heaven lived those beatitudes and they from their place in heaven can help us now by interceding for us. We feel drawn to spend time in prayer more with some saints than others. The way they lived their life of holiness appeals to us in some way or we want to model our lives on them in some way. Some of them were far from Jesus in early life and underwent a conversion experience such as St. Augustine or St. Ignatius. As we read about them and allow ourselves to enter into their journey to heaven, we see that they embraced the cross of Jesus. On their way to heaven during this life, they entered into the Passion of Jesus. The saints were faithful to Jesus not because they never had to embrace the cross; they were faithful to Jesus while they carried their cross.

Some of you during spring break will visit the shrine of Padre Pio in Italy, a famous Capuchin priest, who died in 1968 and was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002. He is one of the most loved and revered saints in Europe and his shrine is said to receive more visitors than even the famous European Marian shrines. He bore the stigmata, the wounds of the crucified Jesus, on his body for most of his priesthood. He had many spiritual and mystical experiences and is said to have been able to read the souls of penitents during confession. He is said to have bilocated in order to minister to people elsewhere in need, and many miracles have been attributed to him. Many continue to ask his intercession from heaven.

Those of you preparing for Ordination will seek the intercession of the saints literally just a few minutes before your Ordination as deacons or priests when you will prostrate on the floor of your cathedral and everyone will sing the Litany of the Saints asking their intercession for your ministry. We join our prayers today with the prayer of the saints in heaven in our first reading who prostrated themselves before God’s throne,

Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen (Rev 7:12)

© Fr. Tommy Lane 2018

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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