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.
The First Reading is from the Book of Exodus. This passage illustrates that there is an integral connection between love of God and love of neighbor. It especially underlines the call of the men in Israel to care for three groups of vulnerable people: women, orphans, and aliens. The words “I will kill you with the sword” are not to be taken literally. Rather, they are intended to convey how abominable it is in God’s eyes to fail to care for the most vulnerable in their midst. Therefore, "Neighbor" is anyone with whom we come in contact. "Love" in this usage is meant to include all the components of that word: Respect, Helpfulness, Forgiveness, etc. Finally, Love of God and love of neighbor, especially the needy, are intimately connected.
The First Reading is from the Prophet Isaiah. The Prophet has been given a message from God to Cyrus, King of Persia, who has just defeated the King of Babylonia in the 6th century BC. The great Persian Emperor Cyrus will be made part of God’s saving plan for His chosen people. Cyrus is told that it was by the hand of God that he was successful in his battles and that God will use him to great advantage if he follows God's instructions. What makes this decree extraordinary is that it is addressed to a pagan king, Cyrus who was not a Jew, but he recognized true authority when faced with it and, in humility, he bowed in favor of the God of the Israelites.