Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.”
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
1 John 3:1-3
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”
Coming out of Halloween into the Solemnity of All Saints is always a little jarring, like turning on a bright light in a dark room. Separated by a single day, the cultural holiday and spiritual holy day contrast starkly with one another. Halloween presents, in a sense, a caricatured version of a earthy, humanistic existence. We usually only dress in costumes on Halloween, but everyday we sculpt our appearances and virtual images to define who we want to be and how we want to be seen. We only go door to door and ask for candy on Halloween, but everyday we’re on the move looking for the approval of others and seeking good things for ourselves. We only decorate with spooky objects and make evil things look friendly on Halloween, but we minimize and get too friendly with our favorite vices everyday.
But on All Saints’ Day, the scriptures invite us to consider what happens, and who we will be, when all of this is stripped away. When we pass through death, our outer images and the good things we’ve laid up for ourselves will be nothing; we will only own our sins, which we won’t be so proud to display. But if we have Jesus, if we know who we are as God’s children, we possess something greater than our sins; we possess Love Himself, who separates our sins from us and makes us pure.
Today, let’s take time to spend with Jesus in our innermost hearts. Let’s plead with Him to turn our focus from worldly expectations to ambition for His kingdom and its peace and righteousness.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the hope of Your love and salvation. Help me to treasure the hope of Your kingdom above all things, and to worship only You, to stand firm in this age, and to become more and more the person You have made me to be. All saints, pray for us!