One of my friends told me that the nun who once taught him had a rather curious line to compliment a student when they had done a good deed: “May you die a martyr’s death!” Well, knowing how some of those saints died would make anyone cringe a little and say “yeah, thanks Sister, you first.” But we know the sentiment of Sister’s comment: the martyrs are saints and definitely in heaven.
So many of us would bristle at the thought of becoming a saint. Saints are those people in elaborate paintings or statues, who lived lives that we find very remote. Saints just seem out of touch and sainthood out of our grasp.
But that’s all wrong. We were all made by God to come back to him one day: we were, in fact, made for heaven. Becoming a saint is the vocation of all of us. Because the most important thing we know about saints is that they are definitely in heaven, which is our true home, which is where we were meant to return some day.
And so this feast in honor of all the saints is an important one. We celebrate those saints we know of like Mary and Joseph, Peter and Paul, Patrick and Dominic and so many others. But we also celebrate the ones we don’t know of; people whose faith and goodness only God knows. And most importantly, in celebrating them, we vow to become like them: close to Jesus who leads those who believe in him past the gates of death to the glory of heaven, where our reward will be great, as Jesus says in the Gospel today. On that day, we will indeed rejoice and be glad!