Homily for All Saints Day (B), November 1st, 2018:
St. John in today’s reading gives us a vision of the end of the world and the salvation of the elect. Let’s discuss the stages of this vision. Stage one is the angel holding the seal of the living God. He will place this seal on “the servants of our God upon their foreheads”(Rev 7:3). Then the angels will release the divine storm winds from the four corners of the earth as a sign of divine wrath. The sign on the servants’ foreheads indicates ownership by God and exemption from the coming punishment. In our church, we place seals too, on the foreheads of infants at Baptism, the cross of Jesus Christ, and at Confirmation, the seal of the Holy Spirit.
St. John sees in the 144-thousand sealed from the tribes of Israel (except for the tribe of Dan) a great conversion of Israel to Christ. Then St. John shows another vision. This one shows “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,…”(Rev 7:9). These are the saints who passed through the great tribulation without compromising their faith. These come from throughout the world. They sing praises to the Lamb and wave palms. These are signs of victory.
Revelation is not exclusively a prediction of disaster. Revelation also shows heavenly salvation and our Christian hope. We are shown this vision in today’s reading from the Book of Revelation. It is a vision of the victorious elect who have survived the unprecedented distress of the great tribulation. They cry out in joy, glorifying God. Even the angels join their cry of worship. This joyful picture is a vision of heaven and the elect who are admitted. They have followed Jesus Christ on the way of the Cross. They have survived incredible tribulation and now glorify God on His Throne and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Jesus’s blood has washed the robes of the saints clean.
St. John’s vision should give us hope. These are the saints of God who are admitted into God’s presence. Our hope is our desire for something and our expectation of receiving it. The virtue of hope is our desire to enter into Divine union with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This union will give us eternal happiness. Faith is an act of our intellect but hope is an act of our will. This vision is what we hope for. St. John’s vision encourages us to keep calm and carry on…following Jesus on the way through suffering and tribulation to an everlasting divine union in which we glorify God and He continues to love us.
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