October 31, 2009

Ripples of God

All Saints Day
Matthew 5: 10-12 “Be glad and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great”

Candles, fresh flowers, rosaries, water, rice, dinuguan and adobo. All are perfectly packed. My family is now ready to visit the tomb of our Tatay Paco in Manila Memorial Park. I wonder why we Filipinos traditionally visit the tombs of our departed loved ones on All Saints Day? Are we presuming they are also “saints” in their own rights? Or this day is the best time to pray for their eternal repose to all unknown Saints of God?

In the Jesuit Cemetery in Novaliches, there is a tomb where the remains of unknown Jesuits and lay friends are laid together, bearing an interesting epitaph: “Here lies people who are unknown to men but known to God.” One of my Jesuit professors taught us that holy people do not know that they are holy (Revelation 7:13-14). They are more aware of their sins and limitations, but the love of God is also so real to them. The love of God overwhelms and compels them to offer their lives in total oblation just to seek the will of God.

Our gospel today gives us hints on how Saints lived their lives. By becoming living witnesses of faith, they create ripples in peoples’ lives. We love throwing stones in the pond. It creates circles of waves that disturb the water surface. Saints are like that. Their lives (as described by the beatitudes) are like stones thrown to us by God. They create ripples in our souls and wake us up from our slumber to do “magis” (more) for God’s glory. A Saint is someone who achieves perfect joy here on earth by placing God ahead of any comfort, honor or satisfaction - and thus opens his soul to the endless joy with God forever. Blessed are the poor, sorrowing, lowly, hungry, thirsty, merciful, single hearted, peacemakers, persecuted and insulted because they follow God, the reign of God is theirs and their reward in heaven is great! (Matthew 5:12)

Saints are totally selfless people. They die to themselves to follow God. Their only desire is to obey the will of God even at the cost of being misunderstood, hated and out casted by the world. Thus, they are beautiful in the eyes of God. They are blessed! (1 John 3:1-3) We venerate Saints not because of their great miracles, but because of their ability to offer their lives for the sake of God’s Kingdom. And when we remember their inspiring stories, they disturb us! They moved our hearts! And challenge us to move out of our comfort zones! Ripples! Saints are indeed ripples of God!

My Father died seven years ago but the ripples he created in my family left a lifetime mark in my heart. How can I forget his loving presence and how he gave us a wonderful family? Ripples! My father is unknown to many but known to God. It’s All Saints Day. Let’s honor the Saints and our “saints” by making a difference in other peoples’ lives. Let’s be ripples of God.

Today, as celebrate the Feast of all unknown Saints of God, we beg for their intercessions to help us follow God faithfully. We also remember and thank God for our departed loved ones who also created ripples in our lives.

The challenge of sainthood is to go where love takes us

- Wilfredo m. Samson,SJ
Krisong Hari Chapel, Montalban, Rizal
November 1, 2009

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