2 November 2008 - Fr Terry Tastard

 Apparently Dorothy Day once said that she did not want people to call her a saint, because she did not want to be dismissed so easily. We know what she meant. Saints are admired, but they are put on a pedestal. It is as if they are a superhuman race, capable of a special holiness, which would be way beyond the likes of us.

And yet, ordinary people do walk the path of love of God and neighbour. Jesus is someone who always sees the goodness in people that might otherwise not be noticed. When the widow puts in her tiny contribution to the Temple treasury, he knows that she has given generously. He praises Nathaniel for being a man incapable of deceit. Jesus even notices the faith in God of people outside Judaism: the Roman centurion, for instance, or the Syro-Phoenician woman. The eye of the Lord looks into the heart, and finds in many ordinary men and women an extraordinary goodness.

The solemnity of All Saints is an opportunity for us to hymn the ordinary people of the world, who are extraordinary in their holiness: their love, their compassion, their dedication, their prayerfulness. You may know one of two of them yourself. Today's first reading from Revelation assures us that they are 'a huge number, impossible to count ' from every nation, race, tribe and language, (7.9). Here it is the martyrs who are especially remembered, those whose courage has overcome every attempt to make them renounce their faith, but we know that the words apply to so many other people too.

We think of the saints as our friends in eternity. On All Saints day we ought to let them inspire us also by their very ordinariness. The unknown saints, known unto God, who were people of holiness, of love of God and neighbour. They did it. Can we? The words from the second reading give us hope: 'What we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed' (1 Jn 3.2). Until our last breath, we are still open to grace, still being made and remade by God. In this hope, with the saints, we press forward.

Fr Terry Tastard is Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Brook Green, London W6.

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