November 1, 2020; Matthew 5:1-12a; Feast of All Saints
On today’s Feast of All Saints we confront a profound Christian mystery: The Communion of Saints. This mystery tells us that all of us as God’s holy people are connected to one another. We believe that those who are in heaven and those who are on earth are united in a common mission to praise and serve God. We are connected with the saints of old: the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Francis of Assisi. We are connected with our loved ones who have gone before us in death and now in God’s presence love us still. We believe that we are united with Christians living today, everywhere in the world, who in different ways and cultures are all striving to do God’s will. This is the great mystery of the Communion of Saints. What truths for our own lives can we discover within it? I suggest that we use an image, the image of a musical chorus, billions of voices in heaven and earth lifting up praise to God. When use this image, three truths for our own lives emerge.
The first is this. No one sings alone. Despite our inclination to concentrate on my relationship to God, my sins, my responsibilities, none of us are solo artists. Our faith and our efforts are part of a larger whole. Our way to God is communal. We walk that way together.
The second truth is that every voice is necessary. The God who loves us all expects us all to be a part of the chorus. Now, of course, some voices may be louder or more important, but every voice is necessary. Therefore, we cannot say, “I’m not holy enough. I’m not talented enough to sing.” The hymn that God desires is a hymn of all creation of which we are a part. So our voice is necessary, if the hymn is to be complete.
The third truth is no one sings all the time. Terrible mistakes, suffering, or doubt can reduce us to silence. We find ourselves unable to lift our voices in praise of God. Such silence could last a day, a month, or even years. In our silence the hymn goes on, and we are still part of it, waiting for the grace of God to cue us to start singing again.
So, on this Feast of All Saints we celebrate the beauty of our communion. A beauty that reminds us that no one sings alone, that every voice is necessary, and in those times when we are unable to sing, there are others who will sing for us.