Today's feast celebrates the many unknown saints who have not been formally declared saints or blessed by the Church. The first reading speaks of "an immense multitude, which no one could count, of all nations, races, peoples and tongues". In fact, anyone in heaven is a saint.
There are many anonymous saints, holy people on their way to heaven, known only to those close to them. You may know some of them: what Pope Francis calls "saints.the saints next door". That saint could be your grandmother, who prays so much and thinks only of helping others. It could be a wonderful uncle who is a true man of God and works hard to help the poor and needy. Or a good Catholic worker who would rather lose his job than betray his conscience by doing something he knows is wrong. It could be a Catholic teacher who tries to prepare her classes as best she can out of love for God and bring some of that love into her teaching. These are people who are really trying to seek God, pray, live well, make good use of their talents and witness to Christ. The feast reminds us that we are all called to holiness, each one of us, to stand before the throne of God sharing in the triumph of the Lamb, because the victory of the saints is above all the victory of Christ in them. Holiness makes no distinctions and is of any race, age and social condition. Holiness is not something optional. In fact, if we do not try to be holy, we are wasting our lives in selfishness, because holiness is living for God and for others, not for ourselves. Holiness is reaching our full potential as human beings. It is letting God take us to the heights of love, soaring like eagles instead of crawling like worms in the mud.
To be a saint is to try to fly: to propose to do good to others, to let God speak to our conscience and tell us: "...".Come on, my son, my daughter, can't you do a little better? Can't you aim a little higher?". And today's Gospel offers us the model of holiness. It is the beginning of Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, when he outlines the Beatitudes: "...".Blessed are the poor in spirit....". The Beatitudes may seem unimpressive, but the more we analyze them, the more we realize how demanding they are. How difficult it is to be truly poor in spirit, to trust only in God and not in created things. How difficult it is to be meek, to be pure of heart, to be ever merciful, to strive for personal righteousness and social justice, to be peacemakers (remembering that peacemakers can often get caught in the crossfire), to be persecuted for the sake of justice. Today's feast invites us to renew our struggle for holiness, considering that it really is "heaven or ruin." If we do not make it to heaven, our life on earth will have been a complete waste.