The Hungarian author, Frigyes Karinthy, draws our attention to a hidden but banal fact. People, on average, have five or fewer social connections with each other. He adds, if we map out all these links, everyone on earth is linked indirectly with everyone else through a network of personal acquaintances. Besides geographical space, this network of influence also unfolds in time down to countless generations, past and yet unborn. The feast of All Saints offers us a mind-blowing insight. When we celebrate the lives of all saints, know, and unknown, the fest confirms a vital fact.
God sees all the connections we mentioned. He sees all humankind, all salvation history, and all the lives of the saints. In today’s feast, we celebrate this divine perspective of grace and mercy. Today’s feast wants to lift us up to this divine horizon of faith and love.
For, we are reminded, that our perspective, without this feast, would remain limited. We are like little children who see their mother’s quilt-work, their embroideries from below the tables, ‘from the reverse side’. From their limited perspective, it seems supremely flawed, but seen from above a beautiful pattern emerges. Life is like a quilt and only God has the big picture. And God, today, wants us to appreciate the life of hidden saints, all ages. God wants us to appreciate what positive effects their prayers brought about, what change they brought into our lives, and what difference our imitating them can make.
Often, we see the lives of the saints, their deeds, illogical, beyond our capacity Just as Our Lord’s own relatives many times found His behavior irrational but Jesus saw the big picture, even in His human nature, thanks to the beatific vision which He alone enjoyed upon earth. They wanted him to remain silent or stay in Galilee in his public ministry and get out of Jerusalem’s limelight. Or, when they wanted him to act like a celebrity Messiah, in all its splendour, Jesus said: “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.” (Jn7:6) Later, however, He did go privately. On another occasion, Jesus waited two days until His friend, Lazarus, had already died before going to help him. This delay seems illogical to us because we don’t have the big picture that Jesus alone saw. Today, being lifted to the horizon of their faith, we can see how wonderful and reassuring God’s works are, and how important our contribution is. So, a practical question can arise: how can I link with God’s saints, known and unknown? How do you establish that link, and in what ways can you cultivate it?
Today’s gospel for All Saint’s Day features the Beatitudes. The eighth one simply promises persecutions to those who observe the first seven. This promised opposition is the foolproof litmus test for true holiness. The saints alone faithfully imitate Christ’s life. That is why their behavior can, likewise, seem illogical. No! They don’t see the big picture like Jesus did. Instead, they act blindly through a kind of divine instinct which the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit give them. These Gifts allow us humans to act in view of the fuller picture. It is not easy to have this fuller view, with all its clarity, in front of us. But today’s feast gives us a taste of it. When, as a worshiping community, we have the foretaste, and the privilege to see our lives, from the perspective of God, interconnected by love, human and divine, and the Sacraments we receive.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..