Today the Church honors all the Saints who have allowed the face of God to be seen in them. The First Reading is from the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation was written to give hope to the early Christians who were suffering persecution under the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) for their belief in the Lamb, the Risen Christ. Today’s reading contains two visions portraying in vivid imagery the salvation of the just. In the first vision, John has a glimpse of the last terrible days when a final assault on the earth is brought on by every evil power.
But before this terror and devastation happens, the faithful will be marked with the seal of God to protect them and bring them home safely to heaven. The symbolic number of those sealed, 144,000, represent the remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel who acknowledge the Lamb. The second vision takes place in heaven. It begins by mentioning “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” These people standing now before the throne of God are martyrs and those who have remained faithful to God during a time of great persecution and trial. But, since the final tribulation is yet to come, their number could also include the baptized of every generation.
The Second Reading is from the First Letter of John. The Apostle John remarks: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. Yet so we are.” The “children of God” are those baptized who were born of the Spirit and raised from the dead like Jesus was. So, the baptized focus on doing God’s will, on deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of our baptism, we are called to respond generously to the love of God as all Saints did.
The Gospel Reading is from the Gospel of Matthew. The Beatitudes are the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. They list the qualities Christ wishes to see in his followers, qualities exemplified in the lives of the saints. We should see the beatitudes as a description of what a human being is like whom Jesus Christ is transforming into a saint! Jesus is telling us that when the transformative power of the Cross brings about in us a greater meekness, poverty of spirit, and so forth, we will experience that we are being blessed.