Thirty-first week in Ordinary time
Tuesday 1 November
Solemnity of All Saints
Revelation 7.2-4, 9-14
1 John 3.1-3
Today, appropriately enough, we open November, month of the dead, by celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, the feast of all those who have gone before us and are now with God. These ‘saints’ knew the same temptations and frailties that we know, and that is the message of today’s readings. The first, from the book of Revelation, follows immediately after we have been given a glimpse into the heavenly liturgy, which is intended to give us hope in a broken world: our eye is to be caught by the unbelievably large number of those who are ‘sealed’ as God’s servants, first 144,000 from the people of Israel, and then an even larger number: ‘an immense crowd, whom no one could count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing before God’. This crowd is standing and singing liturgically; they are identified to us as ‘those who come out of the Great Tribulation and have washed their stoles ... in the blood of the Lamb’. So their frailties include mortality. Then the psalm demands a high standard of those who are to climb the mountain of the Lord, and it seems that there is not much room for frailty here. After that, the second reading brings the whole story back to where it must always be, to the question of love, and to the invitation to become ‘children of God’.