Let me read to you once more the wonderful message of John’s apocalyptic vision:
“I, John, saw an angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God . . . I saw a large number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’ (cf. Apoc. 7: 2-4; 9-14).
A scene of sheer ecstasy, of joy beyond our comprehension; as though all time and seasons have come together in one great “Hallelujah!”
I don’t believe I am exaggerating.
In that uncountable number, in faith and hope, we find family members: parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, confreres, friends and fellow citizens; people we know and people known to us only from history, all gone before us.
All united in praise to God and to the Lamb!
What would one feel after such an encounter?
We know joy. We know what delights us.
But what is described here is totally beyond our comprehension!
It is a “NOW” that will last forever.
It is good for us to contemplate what John sees in a vision, and even if it is beyond comprehension, we can still accept it as real and true, good and beautiful. Something to answer the hunger within our hearts.
In contrast to this first reading from John’s Apocalypse, the gospel reading from the Sermon of the Mount has Jesus speaking words of utter simplicity and blessing: he is blessing, here and now, the poor, the gentle, those who mourn, those who hunger for what is right, those who are merciful, the pure of heart, the peace-makers, and the persecuted (cf. Mt. 5:1-12).
No one of ordinary humanity and goodness is left out!
And what a joy and encouragement that can be for us also, here and now!
In honouring All Saints Day, let us rejoice with and be grateful to those of the large number impossible to count, among whom are dear ones who were close to us, to whom we owe a lot and who have gone on before us, showing us the way.
Finally, let us give praise to God in honouring our God-given humanity and the open, unlimited dimensions of our human hearts, our own irrepressible desires, the ordinariness of our days, the simple joy of living the blessings that Jesus so generously honours in his sermon on the mount.