November 1, 2015


Today, we celebrate so important a Solemnity that the liturgy of the 31st Sunday bows down and gives way to the “glory of God in the Saints!” We do nothing less than worship the all Holy God today. We do nothing more that glorify Him in and through the saints we honor and venerate.

Hmmm … isn’t there something amiss here? Why should the saints steal the show fro God, kind of? Why do they deserve veneration and praise?

Let me first tell you a story …

My childhood “hero” was someone who survived the notorious death march from Bataan to Pampanga, soon after the US and Philippine forces surrendered to the Japanese. I have very faint recollections of the details, but Kakang Gorio, as we called him, was a very reticent man who would rather not talk about the gory details of his dramatic escape.

He came to us one fine day, not knowing where he was from. He was hungry and gaunt, unsure of his gait, but ever gentle and soft-spoken, though he showed signs that he was a big and burly man prior to his traumatic experience.

My father took him in as a partner in the small farming venture he had on the side. He was as quiet as he was hardworking. I always remember seeing him sweaty and dirty from tilling the fields at the end of the long day. He was uncomplaining and ever contributing what he could to the meager family income.

No one apart from us, knew him. He did not even know where he came from, apparently suffering from PTSD or something related to amnesia. All we knew was that he loved us kids, and that he loved my parents for giving him a place to sleep and some work to do.

Alone, unknown, and uncelebrated, I looked to him, nevertheless, as a hero.

Today, we honor similar heroes, no less. They are worthy of emulation as do all the saints with names that we can enumerate from memory. They were nameless, faceless, record-less individuals who took it seriously in life to live in a manner God wanted them to be, minus the trimmings and trappings of popularity and the adulation of an admiring world.

But God behaves differently from the way the world does. This much, the first reading reminds us. He Himself took steps to glorify the nameless 144,000 who were washed in the blood of the Lamb.

The Lord sees them as heroes, no less. And He gently reminds us too, today, that what matters is not whether the world knows us, but that we are “God’s children now.”

Heroes are generally admired. Heroes are generally honored. They each have their day in a year when their contributions to society are remembered.

But today’s saints, though heroes in their own right, are not known, not admired, not acclaimed.

But being heroes in God’s eyes, they are called “Blessed” by the God who is the author and source of all holiness.

And what matters more than anything else is the blessedness and beatitude attached to being poor, being meek, being in mourning, being hungry and thirsty for righteousness, being merciful, being clean of heart, being peacemakers, being persecuted for God’s sake, and being insulted on account of God.

The saints of today, though unknown and unheralded, are heroes, no less. But that is not what counts as important. They were more than heroes. They get more than just monuments.

We pray to God through their intercession. We honor them. We thank God for them. And we glorify God who wrought wonders for them and in them and ultimately for us. Glory to God and the saints of all times!