Feast of All Saints
1 November 2014
St. Macartan’s Cathedral, 10.30am
My dear friends,
In 1906 Keir Hardie, who started his work as a coalminer, became the first parliamentary leader of the British Labour Party. On Hardie’s first day at the House of Commons the policeman at the gate took one look at the former miner, dressed in his working clothes and wearing a cloth cap, and he asked suspiciously, “Are you working here?” “Yes replied Hardie, “On the roof?” asked the policeman, “No” said the new MP, “On the floor”.
People have their own image of what an MP should look like in the House of Commons, just as people have their own image of what a saint should look like in the House of God. Ordinary folk people both places. The first reading we listened to this morning pictures heaven as an international assembly of ordinary people who have been faithful to God; real people whose struggle with crisis and frustration comes to a merciful end in the peace of God’s house. It is not an exclusive club for the pious.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew gives us the teaching of Jesus in summary form in the beatitudes. Jesus recognises as blessed a wide range of people, from the poor in spirit to those persecuted for their faith. The gentle are not overlooked. They shall inherit the earth. Those who mourn and those who are moved by the suffering of others, they will surely be comforted. The people who hunger and thirst for what is right will be satisfied. The people who show mercy will have it returned. The pure of heart will see the face of God. Those who actively promote peace and those who suffer persecution in the cause of right, they will find a home in God’s kingdom.
All these people are Jesus folk. They have lifted the spirit of others and enriched communities of believers by their quiet witness. Their lives have not been written up and their names are not known. But Jesus knows them, they are his people; they, like him, have lived among us. Today’s feast of All Saints gives us an opportunity to celebrate our own folk, especially those who have graced our lives and our communities. We bless God for those who minister to the hungry, the aged, and the overlooked. We thank God for inspiring those who taught us we could make some progress in shaking off those influences that encourage us to be selfish and unloving. We express our gratitude especially to those who bring good news to the poor and those who can continue to forgive when it might seem easier to condemn.
For all these people we give thanks today, and we bless God for allowing us to share the same table with them.
+Liam S. MacDaid
1 November 2014