By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus AMEH
Readings: Revelations 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Today, the church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints. The church teaches that there are 3 forms of her existence: the Triumphant Church (those in heaven), the Suffering Church (those in purgatory) and the Militant Church (those still on earth, including you and I). Today, we celebrate the Triumphant Church; tomorrow, we shall remember the Suffering Church. Through the year, there are memorias and feast days of several saints, but those are the ones that are known. Many more people are in heaven than we will ever know; some may not even be Christians or even profess any religion. Today is the day when we remember all of them.
The First Reading says there are in heaven, people from all parts of the world: people of different tribes, color, nationality, religion, physical appearance, social status, economic backgrounds, and so on. This shows that heaven is a place meant for everybody, irrespective of one’s state in life or background or status. The first qualification needed to enter into heaven is that we possess the image and the likeness of God, and not who or what we are in life. In Genesis 1:26, scripture says God made man in his image, but he didn’t put differentiations. We are the ones who make such differentiations amongst ourselves. We must therefore not discriminate, because in God’s presence, we are all the same.
Celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints is a challenge to all of us on earth. Those in heaven whom we celebrate today were ordinary people like you and I, but they struggled to enter heaven. This means you and I can also enter heaven if we try. But how can we get to heaven? How do people go there? What should we do to enter heaven? What is the gate pass we need to present to be admitted into heaven? The responsorial psalm gives us the answer.
Psalm 24:3-4 says, “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The man with clean hands and pure heart.” The mountain of the Lord is heaven, and to be admitted to it, scripture says our gate pass is clean hands and a pure heart. To be clean of hands,
- We must be involved in doing good
- The clean hands is the one that does not give or take bribes
- To be clean of hands, we must not cheat people
- A clean hand is the one that is generous
- A clean hand also gives back to God in gratitude
- To have clean hands, we must not perform acts of wickedness
- A clean hand is that hand that does not steal.
- A clean hand is that hand that is not involved in doing evil.
- A clean hand is the one that supports the sick and weary.
If we are clean of hands, we must also be pure of heart. In fact, we can’t have clean hands without pure hearts.
- To be pure of heart, we must avoid all forms of evil (Mat 15:19 – It is from the heart that all evil proceeds)
- A pure heart is the one that does not jealous and envy others
- Purity of heart means we are free of lust and sexual immoralities
- A pure heart does not wish others bad; it rejoices wit those who rejoice & mourns with those who mourn
- Purity of heart demands that we do not gossip and slander other people
- A pure heart does not make trouble
In summary, Jesus tells us in the gospel reading what it means to be clean of hands and pure of heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us what to do to go to heaven. Jesus says only those who are humble, who are gentle, who promote peace, who are merciful and forgiving, who are pure in heart and who are ready to bear hardship and opposition for being good that shall enter heaven. Now the question is: do you want to go to heaven? If yes, then God has told you what to do to go there but are you going to do them? Or are you going to continue carrying dirty hands and polluted hearts?
May God help us to do the right things so that we shall be admitted to the mountain of the Lord at the end of our lives. Amen.