Rv 7:2-4,9-14; Ps 24:1-6; 1Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12 : Those who recognize that their deepest longing is to see the Face of the LORD are those who desire not what is vain. Everyone is created with a deep hole in the heart, and only God can fill that hole. In our most honest and humble moments, we can admit to ourselves and to others that we long to see His Face. As Saint Augustine, that famous repentant sinner, teaches us: we are made to be filled with God and until we are so filled we are restless. Indeed, as someone quoted recently in a speech, the only tragedy in human life is to never become a saint. This is our destiny from the first moment of conception in our mother’s womb. We belong to the LORD who has made the earth and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it. The LORD founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. We can ascend the mountain of the LORD, only because he summons us. We can stand in his holy place, only because He longs to see our face. Indeed, we who seek the Face of the LORD, we who gaze upon his splendor in the Eucharist, we behold the LORD who with a divine and unspeakable longing wants to see our face. Keeping our hands sinless and our hearts pure is only possible if we do not desire what is vain. What is vain? Anything that we consider more beautiful than His Face is vain. Anything that we do to prove our goodness is vain. Anything we think we have understood without the light of his truth is vain. The LORD alone, and nothing else, is not vain. Everything else, all thought, all action, and all desire is a puff of smoke. Our true blessedness comes from our True Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ. In the Lord Jesus, the beloved Son of The Father, we can see who we really are, children of God. Indeed in the language of the Beloved Disciple, are we the ones who have survived great distress? Are we are the ones who have washed our robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb? When we can say YES to both questions that arise from the liturgy of the Word, then this is our Festival Day!
What is the time of great distress? How can red blood make our robes white? This Saint John is seeing and hearing things far beyond our vision and out of this world. First he hears the loud voice, a divine voice, thunder in the heavens: slow down you who are so eager to do my will; hold back your destructive hands from the land, sea, trees, and the foreheads of the servants of the LORD God Almighty. Indeed those who will escape the final destruction must first be marked with The Seal. What is this seal? Perhaps it is the sign of victory, the sign of the Cross, our only friend. We, who are among the 144,000 or who are in the great multitude, we cry out with a voice almost as majestic as the angelic voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” We join in the dance of the heavenly liturgy—standing before the throne, wearing our white robes, holding the palm branches. Indeed, we prostrate ourselves and worship God, Living and True, exclaiming: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” We catch a glimpse of the future glory through the vision of Saint John, but we can never hope to be in such a liturgy unless we survive the time of great distress and wash our robes in the Blood of the Lamb. So when is this time of great distress? Is it the next moment of temptation to despair? Is it the last moment of struggle on our deathbed? Is it world war III? Is it what we pray daily for “lead us not into temptation?” Yes, it is all these moments. The only way that the red blood of our Savior can make our garments white is for us to be cleansed by union with the love with which he sacrificed himself upon the cross. It is the love that makes the cross beautiful, not the suffering. The suffering caused the blood to gush forth from his wounded side. It is the love that makes blood the source of our cleansing.
We delight to be called children of God, only because we are children of God. There is no delight in being called something before we are indeed that something. As Saint Benedict commands, “Do not long to be called holy before you are in fact holy.” We are in fact children of God because we have been so made by his Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Children of God are made, not born. We are made sons and daughters of the Father in Heaven because of baptism in Water and the Holy Spirit. It is the water made holy by Him who was baptized in it, the waters of the River Jordan. Indeed, it is the water that gushed forth from his wounded side on that Good Friday. It is the waters made holy in the Vigil of Easter or by the blessing of the priest; it is the waters of the womb of the Church. Such is the holy water that makes us holy, precious in the sight of the Father, like his Beloved and Eternal Son. Our baptism is no claim to fame in this world, as a matter of fact it makes us quite invisible to the gaze of all who limit their vision to the things of this world. Our only identity is that which comes from being hidden in God with Christ. Since the world does not have a clue about the Kingdom and about our King, we are powerless and insignificant, until the end of the world. When this world as we know it is over, then the Lord Christ will be revealed and we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, and then the world cannot not see the painful and purifying light of His Countenance. We who long to see His Face make ourselves pure. Indeed, we let the light of Christ’s Face shine on the darkness of our hard and twisted hearts. The Light of Christ alone can burn away our sin and give us new hearts to welcome His Father and the Holy Spirit. This is the purity of the children of God. This is the purity that lights up our dark and despairing world. Indeed, we bring joy and hope to all the children of the world.
We are blessed because we are Children of God. Our blessing unfolds in us and in our world as a blessing for all. The Kingdom of heaven is ours because we are attached to God alone, we depend on nothing else and no one else. Comfort is ours because we mourn over only one thing, the survival of evil and vice; nothing else and no one else breaks our heart. The land is ours inheritance because we are meek; we do not try to possess and control anyone else or anyone’s property. We are satisfied in body and soul because we hunger and thirst for the Word of God and the Manna from Heaven; nothing else and no one else delights our appetite of spirit or flesh. Mercy is upon us constantly because we are merciful; we do not waste our time looking for a reason to condemn or judge another, not even ourselves. The Face of God is our daily vision because we have a clean heart and eyes that are not blocked by planks nor full of splinters; we behold the Father’s face because we have the Son’s eyes and the Spirit’s vision. We are called, even by our enemies, Children of God, because we seek peace; we have no need to dominate others or remake the world in our own image and likeness. Persecution is ours on a regular basis because we do not care to compromise so that we fit in; we are ridiculed and mocked because the Kingdom of God is more importance than acceptance and approval by everyone around us. Indeed, we rejoice today on the Solemnity of All Saints. All those, known and unknown, who share with us in the blessedness of knowing him more clearly, loving him more dearly, following him more nearly, day by day.